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(Strong) Accent On Spanish Cinema

Viggo Mortenson in ALAISTRE

Thursday, December 7-----The high profile being brought to contemporary Spanish cinema by the international successes of Pedro Almodóvar’s VOLVER and Guillermo del Toro’s PAN’S LABYRINTH (both screened to audience acclaim at the 2006 New York Film Festival) has only stimulated the interest of international filmgoers to explore deeper into the prolific Spanish cinema scene.

Giving New Yorkers a sampling of the blazing talents currently at work in Spain is the heart and soul of SPANISH CINEMA NOW, the Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual walk on the wild side. The series celebrates the country’s breadth of styles, subjects, and genre-driven dynamism, while introducing audiences to vital new voices and the on-going work of film veterans.

Edgar Neville's FLAMENCO (1952)

SPANISH CINEMA NOW runs from December 8 to 26 at the Walter Reade Theater, the year-round cinematheque of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The Film Society also presents the New York Film Festival (a superb mix of Hollywood glamour and commitment to the arts), as well as the New Directors New Films festival, a Spring film treat, produced in collaboration with the Department of Film of the Museum of Modern Art.

But aside from the excitement of those two venerable festival events, the Walter Reade Theater offers a 52-week festival of sorts, with in-depth retrospectives, international showcases, as well as a commitment to American independent film. The Society’s plans to expand to 3 screenings is very welcome new.....more homes for more films.

SPANISH CINEMA NOW , in its 15th year, is a major event, not only because a great proportion of New Yorkers speak Spanish, but because Spain is now “hot” (how could it be otherwise?). Spanish actors from Penelope Cruz to Javier Bardem to Antonio Banderas are not just Spanish stars, but major international talents. Two of Spain’s contemporary crop of acting talent, Lola Dueñas (VOLVER) and Ariadna Gil (PAN’S LABYRINTH), are represented, respectively, with Javier Rebollo’s LOLA and David Trueba’s WELCOME HOME.

WELCOME HOME

Other tasty tapas include: CELIA’S LIVES, a ruthlessly efficient neo-noir directed by Antonio Chavarrías; and several remarkably assured debuts, including Daniel Sánchez Arévalo’s DARKBLUEALMOSTBLACK, Albert Serra's QUIXOTIC, comedian Carlos Iglesias’s CROSSING THE BORDER, and Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo's THE NIGHT OF THE SUNFLOWERS.

CELIA'S LIVES

A certain Festival highlight will be actor du jour Viggo Mortensen (THE LORD OF THE RINGS) as a new kind of swordsman-hero in director Agustín Díaz Yanes’s ALAISTRE, based on the best-selling series by Pérez-Reverte. Buy tickets early for that one!!

Viggo Mortenson in ALAISTRE

SPANISH CINEMA NOW has always been about discovery, both of films and filmmakers,” says Richard Peña, Film Society program director. “The presence of so many fine debut directors is a tribute to the vitality of current Spanish filmmaking. Almost alone in European cinema, Spanish directors have continued to mine traditional film genre for new themes and ideas.”

As if the US Premiere of many of the films is not enough, the film series also offers an appreciation of cinema past, with a Retrospective entitled CITY STREETS AND SECRET PASSAGES: The Films of Edgar Neville. This retro offers a fresh evaluation of the career of Spain’s first true auteur from the 1940s/1950s, whose reputation was clouded by the fact that he continued working in Spain during Franco’s regime.

TOWER OF THE SEVEN HUNCHBACKS

The series features six essential works of the director’s oeuvre, including his most emblematic film THE TOWER OF THE SEVEN HUNCHBACKS (1944) in which a secret community of counterfeiters living beneath the city streets is accidentally revealed. No less than Charlie Chaplin called him “the best storyteller he ever met”. That is quite high praise....from Chaplin, no less. Worth a repeated look.

The festivities begin on December 7 at a press conference at the Instituto Cervantes, which will include many of the filmmakers. Leading the press conference will be Pilar Torre of Spanish promotion agency ICAA and Richard Peña, the Film Society Programming Director.


For more information and online tickets, log on to www.filmlinc.com, call (212) 875-5600, or go to the Walter Reade Theater box office at Lincoln Center.

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Sandy Mandelberger
Film New York Editor

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Spanish Cinema

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