GOYAS @ Valencia: Spain’s Best Films ’21

Valencia is hosting the 36th GOYA Awards of the Spanish film industry. I love the idea of holding the ceremony in different cities each year. Can you imagine Oscars in Oklahoma?! I believe it’s a great way to foster a sense of cultural unity and energize local communities. The replicas of the award popped up throughout the city, including my neighborhood. Film is for all, everywhere! The Filmoteca screened nominated films for free. While I missed El Buen Patron nominated for Best Film and the kitchen sink (a total of precedent-setting 20 nods), I got to see five movies. It gave me confidence to watch more Spanish film, because my language proficiency turned out to be enough to enjoy them. I encourage y’all to seek out these fine films at your local independent cinemas or online.

CHAVALAS

At times delightfully simple, at times annoyingly simplistic… this feel-good dramedy refuses to make up its mind whether to affirm or challenge restrains and blessings bestowed upon us by our class, gender, neighborhood, and other circumstances. The film makes you change emotional allegiances every couple scenes, ultimately saying: “Never mind Jesus. What would YOU do?!” It raises more questions than it can answer which might be its saving grace. What is normal? Who is creative? How far to your nearest apple tree? I sipped on a pensive shot of pacharán afterwards.

Nominee: new actress Ángela Cervantes and first-time director Carol Rodríguez

MAIXABEL

This film is based on a real meeting between Spanish activist Maixabel Lasa and the men who murdered her husband, a rising politician in the 1990’s. Tough choices, rough fates, difficult words. There is no algorithm for repentance or forgiveness. Neither is guaranteed even if asked for, proclaimed, photo-opped, hashtagged, etc… Blanca Portillo and Luis Tosar deliver a tour-de-force acting masterclass. Their last scene will haunt you, in a good way. Ufff, I took a few reconciliatory shots of pacharán afterwards.

Nominee: Best Film, director Icíar Bollaín, actress Blanca Portillo, actor Luis Tosar, supporting actor Urko Olazabal, new actress María Cerezuela, screenplay by Icíar Bollaín and Isa Campo, editor Nacho Ruiz Capillas, original music by Alberto Iglesias, art direction by Mikel Serrano , costume design by Clara Bilbao, make-up/hair by Karmele Soler and Sergio Pérez Berbel and sound design team of Alazne Ameztoy, Juan Ferro and Candela Palencia.

PARALLEL MOTHERS

A) I worship at the altar of Almodóvar ever since I saw his retrospective at Lincoln Center in 2002. No one queers the zeitgeist quite like Pedro. B) Almodóvar exists in a creative echo chamber, a cinematic universe of his own (un)doing. Nothing is new; it’s one lifelong meta-movie, a sublime series of poignant déjà vus. Actresses, mothers, monsters, unyielding desires, private and public histories forever intertwined against that signature background of burnt orange, maroon, olive green…. If you’ve never seen “an Almodóvar”, do start earlier in his oeuvre. In lieu of pacharán, I had Turia beer with an almodovar-savvy friend afterwards. We agreed to disagree.

Nominee: Best Film, director Pedro Almodóvar, actress Penelope Cruz, supporting actresses Milena Smit and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, cinematographer José Luis Alcaine, art direction by Alejandra Loiseau, and sound design team of Sergio Bürmann, Laia Casanovas, and Marc Orts

Mediterráneo

When it comes to the ongoing refugee crisis, I wrote about the creative response vs. responsibility conundrum within the White Imagination. This film follows that discourse into the realm of action. Based on a true story of two Badalona lifeguards who saw the historic photograph of a drowned Syrian boy in 2015 and flew to the Greek island of Lesbos to aid in rescue missions. And stayed. Saving lives. Every day. For six years now. There was not enough pacharán in the world to drink through this, so I had a single solidarity shot of ouzo and donated to their organization Open Arms. Unfollow one “influencer” today and follow this account instead. I implore you.

Nominee: Best Film, actor Eduard Fernández, cinematographer Kiko de la Rica, original music by Arnau Bataller, original song The Sea Awaits You by María José Llergo and best special effects by Àlex Villagrasa

Josefina

In a world where Ryan Reynolds must make two bombastic action-comedies per year or the stock market crashes, the fact that this type of films gets made and finds an audience is a miracle. I was happy to witness Josefina and testify on its behalf. Emma Suarez and Roberto Álamo embody fifty shades of modern loneliness with disarming vulnerability. And yes, it is a comedy, of sorts. Boy meets girl, sure. Except, there aren’t really romcoms about maddeningly, breathtakingly lonely adults imprisoned by the safety of their routines. What if even your imagination offers no escape?! I still feel the last minute of the film in my bones. I had a whole cup of pacharán afterwards. I’d put all my Goyas in this basket.

Nominee: actress Emma Suárez, first-time director Javier Marco Rico, editor Miguel Doblado

If you enjoyed reading this, encourage me to write more and Buy Me a Coffee.

Thank you! Gracias! @alexeytimbul

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