AS the cultural arm of the Spanish Embassy in the Philippines, Instituto Cervantes brings 24 highly acclaimed Spanish films to the country for this year’s Pelicula-Pelikula film festival, as it continuously creates an avenue for an exchange of creative ideas between the artists and film enthusiasts of the two nations.
Fulfilling their duty in promulgating Spanish arts and culture in the country, Instituto Cervantes director Carlos Madrid said that through the 13th installment of the Spanish Film Festival, “We want to continue the interaction between Spanish and Filipino people, which makes our work worthwhile as a cultural center. We don’t just expose Spanish culture in the Philippines, but more importantly, we create the venue for the cultural interaction to take place.”
Running from October 10 to 19 at Cinemas 1 and 2 of the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas, the film fest will screen movies depicting human emotions in the everyday lives of Spaniards.
According to cultural coordinator Jose Ma. Fos, the 24 films are comprised of 19 feature films and five shorts, along with two animated movies. Besides choosing fairly recent films produced in the past year, the cultural office has chosen award-winning films that they believe are of interest to the Filipino audience.
”One example is the opening film, Vivir es facil con los ojos cerrados (Living is Easy with Eyes Closed) which was Awarded Best Spanish Film of 2013. We bring recent and highly acclaimed films in the festival,” Fos told The Manila Times.
”We chose themes that are comedies or drama, those that touch the human emotions. Generally, people like to watch and see films that discuss feelings and emotions that they can relate to,” the cultural coordinator added.
As for the other features, Fos said, “Documentary film making is an important genre in Spain for showing the realities in our culture and way of life.”
Fos also touched on the ongoing crisis in the worldwide film industry, which is heavily attributed to the alternative movie viewing via the Internet, as well as the phenomenon of animated films in his country.
”Basically, there are less people watching movies in theaters, that’s why there is a crisis not only in Spain but all over the world. Ironically there are more animated films being produced in Spain since we are moving forward from the notion that animation is just for kids. There are animated films that have more mature content now,” Fos said.
To further entice mall goers to the film festival, the cultural coordinator said that an interactive exhibit will simultaneously be mounted at the Greenbelt 5 Fashion Walk, which will provide more information on the features.
Progress and growth
Besides the Spanish Embassy and Instituto Cervantes, other agencies involved in this year’s film fest include the Mexican Embassy, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and Ayala Malls who will host the 10-day film screening.
This long-standing partnership has allowed the festival to grow from screening five films in one weekend since it started in 2002, to this year’s showing of 24 films with an expected turnout of over 10,000 festival goers.
To complement the annual film festival, Instituto Cervantes will conduct an open forum with Spanish filmmaker David Trueba on October 10. The Spanish cultural office has recently brought in contemporary Spanish film directors to the Philippines for an educational dialogue between stakeholders of the foreign and local filmmaking industry in July. Titled “Off Hollywood” the forum had four Spanish filmmakers share their views on the challenges of the Hollywood-dominated film industry.
“Despite the film industry crisis, we have seen a growing number of viewers who watch Spanish films. Although Spain has been producing fewer films in the last five years, we have seen that there are more people watching our films,” Fos noted positively.
Always looking to improve each film festival, Director Madrid revealed that in the coming years, the Spanish cultural office hopes to screen older Spanish films produced about the Philippines.
“We found in our archives a Spanish produced film in the 1940s about the destruction of Manila. This movie still needs to be restored, which can take time and resources. So now we are looking for partners to help us with its restoration. Although it is not certain, we are looking to screen that in the next film festival,” Madrid elaborated.
With the long-standing friendship between two nations, Pelicula also strives to show parallelisms between Filipino and Spanish cultures. This, according to Madrid, will help the two nations better understand each other, and strengthen the values shared by the people.
The director also noted that more Spanish tourists are coming to the Philippines, which signifies the growing interest of Latin-American nationals to the country.
“In Spain, there are two best-selling novels in the market now about the Philippines. The number of Spanish tourists that are coming to the Philippines is now at 30,000 and growing, and there are articles about the country that are being published in mainstream media. This shows that the two nations have a positive and growing relationship in business and culture,” Madrid concluded.
For further information including the film festival line-up and schedule, visit the official website of Instituto Cervantes at www.manila.cervantes.es.a