Expanded festival now includes Thailand and Australia

FOR ITS 19th year, the Spanish Film Festival — Pelicula Pelikula — is going online for the first time as Instituto Cervantes de Manila and the Spanish Embassy continue to bring some of the best Spanish films to the Philippines despite current health and safety regulations which forbid people from going to cinemas.

“The COVID-19 crisis has posed the greatest challenge in the history of the Festival, and Pelicula responds by offering online screenings and webinars,” Instituto Cervantes said in a press release.

The film festival will run from Oct. 3 to 11 and for the first time, the film festival will also be expanding to Thailand and Australia. Pelicula will be presenting eight films chosen for being “very interesting at the time” and at the same time “have not been present in other film festivals” or not having been shown in Asia or the Philippines before, said Marina Diaz-Lopez of the department of cultural activities at Instituto Cervantes, during a digital press conference on Sept. 23.

The films will be available for 24 hours via www.pelikula.es starting at 6 p.m. for the Philippines and Thailand, and 8 p.m. for Australia, on its screening date.

Pelicula will open on Oct. 3 with La filla d’algú (2019), directed by Marcel Alcantara and 10 other students from the Escuela Superior de Cine y Audiovisuales de Cataluña. The film follows a pregnant lawyer from Barcelona who is preparing for a high-profile trial when the father of her unborn baby disappears a day before the trial.

El increíble finde menguante (2019), directed by Jon Mikel Caballero, is a sci-fi mystery that follows a woman who is trapped in a weekend time loop with her friends where each repetitive cycle keeps getting shorter and shorter. The film screens on Oct. 4.

Nicolas Pacheco’s Jaulas (2018) is about a woman who takes her teenage daughter and flees to the big city and away from her abusive husband. The film screens on Oct. 5.

El despertar de las hormigas (2019), by Antonella Sudassasi, follows a beleaguered mother of two whose husband wants another child and is forced to make decisions for herself. The film screens on Oct. 6.

El Cuadro (2019) by Andres Sanz, meanwhile, is a documentary trying to unravel the mystery behind the classic painting Las Meninas by Spanish artist Diego Velasquez. The film screens on Oct. 7. Another documentary in the festival lineup is Mudar La Piel (2018) by Ana Schulz and Cristóbal Fernández, which follows Juan Guttierez (father of Ms. Schulz) as he tries to broker peace between the Basque separatist organization and the Spanish government. The film screens on Oct. 8.

Meanwhile, Asamblea (2019) by Alex Montoya is a satirical comedy that parodies political reunions and challenges the forward-thinking face in assembly. The film screens on Oct. 9. And finally, Arima (2019) by Jaione Camborda is a fantasy-drama about two women whose lives are disrupted with the arrival of two strangers. It screens on Oct. 10.

Aside from online screenings, webinars and online discussions will be conducted with the participation of the directors of the films featured in the festival. On Oct. 5 there will be a roundtable discussion about Marketing Asian Cinema in Europe and Spanish Cinema in Asia; and on Oct. 9, the directors of major Spanish, Thai, and Filipino film festivals will hold a discussion to answer the question Any Future for Film Festivals?. The webinars can also be accessed for free via the www.pelikula.es page.

Pelicula will also be showing several short films from the Philippines, Thailand, Spain, and Australia on Oct. 10 including Tokwifi by Carla Pulido Ocampo, Lost & Found by Andrew Goldsmith, Suc de Sindira by Irene Moray, and Dossier of the Dossier by Sorayos Prapapan.

For its final day, the film festival will re-screen the film which won the annual Audience Choice Award. Viewers of the films will be given digital stubs where they can rate the movie they have seen. The winning movie will be screened on Oct. 11.

“We applaud our partners [as they] continue to provide avenues for storytelling and mutual exchange during these trying times. [Thank you so much] for utilizing the innovations present to reach our audiences and continue this cultural exchange,” Mary Liza B. Diño, chairman and CEO of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), said at the digital conference.

For more information about the festival, visit www.pelikula.es, or https://manila.cervantes.es, or the Facebook page of Instituto Cervantes (www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila). — Zsarlene B. Chua