Manila embraces annual Spanish cultural invasion

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Spanish Ambassador to the Philipines Jorge Domecq (right) and Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairman Briccio Santos at the opening of “Película-Pelikula” Spanish Film Festival at Greenbelt 3 in Makati City. PHOTOS COURTESY OF JUDE BAUTISTA

The last quarter of the year as always, brings a series of exciting events that further endear the Spanish culture to Filipinos.

Spearheaded by the Embassy of Spain and Instituto Cervantes de Manila, the 12th Pelìcula-Pelikula film festival at the Ayala Museum Makati City, just had a successful conclusion as the first of a three-month long cultural invasion lined up by the Spanish film and arts community in Manila, who are eager and generous to share their talents with one of Spain’s closest allies in the world.

The film festival screened exclusively at the Greenbelt 3 Cinema in Makati ran from October 3 to 13, and included a selection of multi-awarded films from prestigious festivals, such as the Goya Awards in Spain. Daily life issues as well as fantasy-inspired films in the genre of comedy, drama, suspense, animation, documentary and a new category for the short film, were shown during the two-week long event.

The opening film, Blancanieves by Pablo Berger, is a gothic melodrama inspired by the Brothers’ Grim tale, Snow White. With the main characters comprised of an evil stepmother and an artistically famous bullfighter father, this film brings a Spanish flair into the fairy tale classic. Known as a “tribute to classic films,” Blancanieves deserves to be the opening act of the film festival after winning 10 Goya Awards for his work, including Best Film, Script and Best Actress, among others.


Spanish actress Alejandra Lorente who stars in Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) attends the “Película-Pelikula” Spanish Film Festival as special guest

Spanish actress Alejandra Lorente who stars in Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) attends the “Película-Pelikula” Spanish Film Festival as special guest

Spanish actress Alejandra Lorente who played Paula in the short film, Aquel No Era Yo, which was also screen in the festival, graced the opening event. She delightfully shared her experience in portraying the role of a Spanish volunteer in Africa, in a story gripped with fear, violence, terror and redemption.

The film festival also showcased works from Argentinean cinema, describing it as “one of the most interesting and dynamic [film industries ]in the American continents.” In collaboration with the Embassy of Argentina in Manila, a number of recent productions from the South American country was lineup up along with a special forum with Argentinean director, Gabriel Nesci.

“This is the first time we are showing Argentinean films in Pelikula,” said Jose Sanz, director of Instituto Cervantes.

True to its cause to strengthen Filipino-Spanish bilateral ties through films, the festival also featured chosen independent short films in Chabacano from Zamboanga City in Mindanao, made possible through the combined efforts of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and Zamboanga City Hall. Chabacano is recognized as a language that emerged during the Spanish occupation in the country, which is now used by almost half a million Filipinos, mainly in Zamboanga and Cavite.

Fairs and symposiums
Besides the film festival, the European Union Delegation together with different embassies and cultural arms of its member countries also organized the European Higher Education Fair on October 15 at The Peninsula Hotel in Makati.

The networking opportunity gave a chance for both institutions and students to learn more about international partnerships and programs of studies in the European Union.

Flamenco dancer Ursula Lopez also presented her first-directed show Abriedo Caminos (Opening Roads) at the Meralco Theater in Pasig on October 24, which featured the most traditional flamenco styles that “aspire to convey feelings and emotions” with a modern touch of the Spanish dance.

At the Museo de San Agustin in Intramuros, Manila, a five-day symposium on “Preventive Preservation in Museums Exposed to Tropical and Subtropical Climates,” which began on October 21, shared the expertise of two Spanish professors regarding preservation of architectural structures, museums, and rehabilitation of historical buildings.

Still to come     
This coming month of November, The Third International Congress on Spanish as Foreign Language in Asia-Pacific will give professional perspective on the future market of Spanish language in the region, as well as opinions from consultants who promote the need of institutions, companies and the public in general. The most current research on the language will also be imparted during the lecture on November 26 to 28 at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.

To herald the Christmas season, the Intramuros Administration will then hold the Pasko sa Intramuros, at the newly restored Ayunamiento de Manila building. A Christmas carol competition among schools in the Walled City as well as flamenco shows and performance by University of Santo Tomas Symphony Orchestra hope to usher in yuletide sentiments.

The film festivals will also carry on with the Cine en la Biblioteca series at the Ortigas Foundation Library, which will take place on November 13 and 27.

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