The HSBC Spanish Film Festival presented by Palace, an annual celebration of film and culture from Spain and Latin America, will screen at Palace Cinemas Raine Square, Luna Palace Cinemas Leederville and Luna on SX Fremantle from 15 June – 5 July.
The highly anticipated Festival is celebrating 25 years in 2023 and befitting such a milestone, will be presenting a thirty-two-film strong lineup that is exciting, inspiring and entertaining viewing from the region. The many highlights include a Uruguayan documentary with an Australian connection, a focus on Women in Filmmaking with seven prominent Spanish and Latin American female directors, a Carlos Saura retrospective and much more.
The Festival is thrilled to welcome new Naming Partner HSBC, one the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations. Jessica Power, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC Bank Australia Limited, says “We’re thrilled to be involved in this year’s Festival. Much like the power of film, we at HSBC believe that by bringing people and ideas together we can open up a world of opportunity. We’re sure that all attendees to this year’s Festival will love the global selection of compelling storytelling.”
The Opening Night film is the Australian premiere of delicious comedy TWO MANY CHEFS (La vida padre). Set in Bilbao’s world of high cuisine, this Spanish box office hit stars Karra Elejalde and Enric Auquer as a father and son whose unexpected reunion after thirty years apart puts their ideas about cooking and life to the test.
Festival Centrepiece ALCARRÀS has been a critical and audience success in Spain, taking home the coveted Golden Bear at Berlinale in 2022. Carla Simón’s personal and beautifully observed new ensemble drama follows a family of Catalonian farmers who, after generations harvesting the same land, face eviction and an uncertain future.
The 2023 Festival Retrospective is titled Lord of Dance: A Focus on Carlos Saura and showcases a selection of works from the late Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura. Brimming with vibrant passion for music, art and dance, this selection of Saura’s work displays his dedication to presenting and showcasing culture through creativity.
The critically acclaimed Spanish box office hit thriller PRISON 77 (Modelo 77) is one of two previously announced Special Presentations. The five-time Goya Award-winning film from Alberto Rodríguez, the director of Marshland, follows a young accountant awaiting trial in 1977, who joins a group of prisoners demanding amnesty plus Colombia’s award-winning drama THE KINGS OF THE WORLD (Los reyes del mundo) from director Laura Mora Ortega, which follows five Medellín teenagers from the streets who set out on an adventure in search of the promised land.
Other exceptional thrillers include gripping true crime thriller A SINGULAR CRIME (Un crimen Argentino). Set in 1980s Argentina, two jurists race against time to try to solve the case of an intriguing disappearance of a wealthy businessman while facing police corruption. The other (announced in first Festival highlights) stars favourite Paco León as a man who is spying on a family from inside a closet, becoming a mysterious presence in their lives in the intriguing STARING AT STRANGERS (No mires a los ojos).
For comedy lovers, there is a FULL OF GRACE (Llenos de gracia), starring top Spanish actress Carmen Machi, set in a boarding school in the 1990s. This uplifting film for all ages about soccer, nuns and orphaned kids is full of humour and charm. Spanish box office hit FOUR’S A CROWD (El cuarto pasajero) from Álex de la Iglesia, is another fun comedy about a 50-year- old divorcee with financial problems who begins sharing his car with strangers via an app, but trouble ensues when he adds new passengers.
GRANDFATHERS (Abuelos) is another crowd-pleasing comedy with sharp observations about modern life that follows three friends near retirement age who refuse to give up and dare to launch a kindergarten business from scratch. Heartwarming adventure LET THE DANCE BEGIN (Empieza el baile) also proves that you are never too old to be funny, as a once-famous tango dance couple (played by Darío Grandinetti and Mercedes Morán) reunite and go on a road trip across Argentina with an old friend.
Based on the play by Matías del Federico and from multi-award winner Gerado Herrero is fun dramatic comedy IN THERAPY (Bajo terapia). Based on three married couples in therapy, it features witty and cutting dialogue and an excellent ensemble cast.
In a salute to Mexican wit, MIGHTY VICTORIA (El Poderoso Victoria) is a comedic adventure set in a small desert town in 1930s Mexico. It follows the crazy plan of a group of locals who decide to build their own steam train when their railroad route is cancelled. A modern comedy set in Mexico is MY FATHER’S MEXICAN WEDDING (La novia de América). The hilarious romcom unfolds as two Spanish siblings travel to Mexico to attend the wedding of their father to a woman he met online, but what they find there is not what they expected.
An all-star cast shines in THE TE$T (El Test), an intelligent comedy about money, love and ambition from Dani de la Orden. A group of people must decide whether they want 100,000 euros now or are willing to wait ten years for one million.
With laughs suitable for the whole family THE THREE WISE MEN VS SANTA (Reyes contra Santa) is an entertaining Christmas tale that follows the famous trio, who are fed up with Santa taking more of the limelight. Their confrontation then threatens the world with a more dangerous enemy. Also family friendly is TODAY WE FIX THE WORLD (Hoy se arregla el mundo), from Argentina. A busy talk show producer discovers that he is not the real father of the nine-year-old in his household and the two set out on an adventure to find the real father.
Other Cine Latino gems in the 2023 lineup include Ana García Blaya’s drama THE WOMAN FROM URUGUAY (La Uruguaya) based on the acclaimed novel by Pedro Mairal. It revolves around a writer who pins his hopes on a free-spirited 25-year-old he meets up with in Montevideo to get through his daily frustrations. FEROCIOUS WOLF (Lobo Feroz) is a tense, twisted, and darkly comic thriller starring Adriana Ugarte and Javier Gutiérrez in which a mother and detective take the investigation of the murder of a child into their own hands and HISTORY OF THE OCCULT (Historia de lo Oculto) is an intelligent and stylish 1980s set horror film filmed in black and white, following the final live broadcast of a current affairs program where an occult conspiracy threatens to be exposed.
Shot mainly in the majestic Cordillera de las Andes of Mendoza in Argentina, THE BROKEN LAND (Las Rojas) is a feminist western imbued with magic realism, about two women who are willing to do anything to protect a dream.
Two fascinating true stories also feature this Festival; FREE (Libres) a remarkable documentary about twelve monasteries in Spain and the interior lives of those who have given themselves completely to a cloistered life of prayer, and the story with an Australian connection; GREG MORTIMER (Greg Mortimer, en busca de una tierra solidaria), an intimate documentary about the cruise that left for Antarctica just before the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic. The story of the cruise unfolded live, seen by millions of people around the world.
Other new Spanish cinema includes IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN (Las buenas compañías), an elegant drama set in the Basque Country in the late 1970s. Actress-director Silvia Munt’s tribute to the brave women of a generation explores the fight for women’s rights and the right to abortion. Also female-focused is affectionate drama about the world of acting, fame and family SOMEONE WHO TAKES CARE OF ME (Alguien que cuide de mi). Three-time Goya Award Winner Emma Suárez stars as one of three generations of actresses united by family ties but separated by generational conflicts; TOBACCO BARNS (Secaderos) set in dreamy landscapes, takes viewers to a mysterious and moving summer amongst the tobacco barns where anything can happen; WILD FLOWERS (Girasoles silvestres), a powerful reflection of everyday life as a young single mother battles to defend her children while at the same time embarking on a love affair and CORK (Suro), the fascinating debut feature from Mikel Gurrea which explores the balance of power in relationships, as a Barcelona couple move to the country to build a new life in the cork-tree forests.
LORD OF DANCE – CARLOS SAURA RETROSPECTIVE
CARMEN – This 40th anniversary presentation showcases Carlos Saura’s biggest international box-office success with this self-reflexive meditation on both Bizet’s popular opera Carmen, featuring legendary dancers Antonio Gades and Laura del Sol.
FADOS – A unique film experience investigating fado, a traditional Portuguese music genre dating back to 1820 featuring top artists and dancer from Portugal, Brazil and Cape Verde.
J: BEYOND FLAMENCO (Jota de Saura) – An intimate engagement with the vivacity and charisma of the jota, a waltz-like castanet dance originating in the province of Aragon, the birthplace of Carlos Saura.
THE KING OF ALL THE WORLD (El rey de todo el mundo) – A cinematic collage of incredible music, extraordinary dance forms and stunning visuals, this musical explores the folkloric tradition of the music and dance of Mexico.
WALLS CAN TALK (Las paredes hablan) – In his final film before his death earlier this year, Carlos Saura investigates how “the wall” ties in with the evolution and relationship of art, acting as a creative canvas for thousands of years. All sessions will be preceded by the short film Goya: May 3, an innovative audio-visual project that offers a cinematographic recreation of Goya’s iconic painting.
The 2023 HSBC Spanish Film Festival returns to Perth 15 June – 5 July. ¡Viva la fiesta!
Tickets on sale from 17 May.