HSBC Spanish Film Festival 2023 – a preview

The HSBC Spanish Film Festival presented by Palace is an annual celebration of film and culture from Spain and Latin America. The 2023 edition will be screening at Palace Cinemas around Australia, from this June to July. The festival is celebrating 25 years in 2023 and befitting such a milestone, will be presenting a thirty-two-film strong lineup that offers exciting, inspiring and entertaining viewing from the region. The many highlights include a focus on Women in Filmmaking, featuring the work of seven prominent Spanish and Latin American female directors, a comprehensive Carlos Saura retrospective, and much more.

Opening this year’s festival is the Australian premiere of delicious comedy TWO MANY CHEFS (La vida padre) (featured image above). 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 the 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 Kings of the World

The 2023 Festival Retrospective Lord of Dance: A Focus on Carlos Saura showcases a selection of works from the legendary Spanish filmmaker who passed away earlier this year. Brimming with his vibrant passion for music, art and dance, this selection of Saura’s work displays the consummate filmmaker’s dedication to presenting and showcasing culture through creativity.

The critically acclaimed Spanish box office hit thriller PRISON 77 (Modelo 77) is one of two 2023 Special Presentations. The five-time Goya Award-winning film from Alberto Rodríguez, (Marshland) follows a young accountant awaiting trial in 1977 who joins a group of prisoners demanding amnesty. The second Special Presentation is 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, in which two jurists race against time to try to solve the case of an intriguing disappearance of a wealthy businessman; and STARING AT STRANGERS (No mires a los ojos) starring Paco León as a man who is spying on a family from inside a closet, becoming a mysterious presence in their lives.

On the comedy front, this year’s offering includes the uplifting film for all ages FULL OF GRACE (Llenos de gracia), starring top Spanish actress Carmen Machi and set in a boarding school in the 1990s; Spanish box office hit FOUR’S A CROWD (El cuarto pasajero) from Álex de la Iglesia, about a 50-year-old divorcee with financial problems who begins sharing his car with strangers via an app; GRANDFATHERS (Abuelos) the story of three friends near retirement age who dare to launch a kindergarten business from scratch and heartwarming adventure LET THE DANCE BEGIN (Empieza el baile) about a once-famous tango dance couple (played by Darío Grandinetti and Mercedes Morán) who reunite and go on a road trip across Argentina with an old friend.

The Te$t

The Cine Latino includes gems like Ana García Blaya’s drama THE WOMAN FROM URUGUAY (La Uruguaya) based on the acclaimed novel by Pedro Mairal; FEROCIOUS WOLF (Lobo Feroz), a tense, twisted, and darkly comic thriller starring Adriana Ugarte and Javier Gutiérrez and HISTORY OF THE OCCULT (Historia de lo Oculto) a 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 almost entirely 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. Based on the eponymous play by Jordi Vallejo, THE TE$T is an intelligent comedy about money, love and ambition, from expert comedy director Dani de la Orden.

Two fascinating true stories also feature this year; 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), documenting the travails of passengers and crew aboard the Australian cruise ship that left for Antarctica just before the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 HSBC Spanish Film Festival will be showing nationally from 14 June to 5 July in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Byron Bay, and from 20 June to 12 July in Sydney. Tickets are on sale now. Visit www.spanishfilmfestival.com for more information and tickets.

Screening dates and venues:
Canberra 14 June – 5 July: Palace Electric Cinema.
Adelaide 14 June – 5 July: Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas.
Brisbane 14 June – 5 July: Palace James Street and Palace Barracks.
Melbourne 15 June-5 July: The Astor Theatre, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Brighton Bay,
Palace Westgarth, The Kino, Palace Balwyn and Pentridge Cinema.
Perth 15 June – 5 July: Palace Raine Square, Luna Leederville and Luna on SX.
Byron Bay 15 June – 5 July: Palace Byron Bay.
Sydney 20 June – 12 July: Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Palace Central and Chauvel Cinema

Other reviews you might enjoy: