HSBC Spanish Film Festival 2024 – a preview

The 2024 HSBC Spanish Film Festival, presented by Palace, brings a fiesta of the finest new and classic films from Spain and Latin America this June. The festival’s largest line-up to date opens nationally from 11 June at Palace Cinemas, Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas and Luna Palace Cinemas.

This year’s star-studded Opening Night film is THE MOVIE TELLER (La Contadora de Películas). Based on a popular novel, the movie is directed by multi award-winning director Lone Scherfig. A moving tribute to cinema and the magical power of storytelling, the film follows a young woman’s coming-of-age in a Chilean mining town and stars Bérénice Bejo, Antonio de la Torre, Daniel Brühl and brilliant newcomer Alondra Valenzuela.

Something is About to Happen

The 2024 Special Presentation brings together female-led films exploring the themes of ‘Liberation, Sensuality and Empowerment’. In the comedic yet sensual drama MAMACRUZ, Kiti Mánver delivers a compelling central performance as a religiously devout woman in late middle age who rediscovers the transformative power of her own sensuality. Channelling the voices of three women over 65 into one, MEMORIES OF A BURNING BODY (Memorias de un cuerpo que arde) is a heartfelt drama exploring pleasure and desire. In dark comedy thriller SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN (Que nadie duerma), Malena Alterio, who was awarded a Goya for her performance, plays a woman whose life takes a definitive turn when she loses her job. And VERA AND THE PLEASURE OF OTHERS (Vera y el placer de los otros), a comedic and erotic tale about growing up, follows 17-year-old Vera, as she divides her days between volleyball, school, and a secret hobby: listening to other people’s pleasure.

The Festival Centrepiece is THE TEACHER WHO PROMISED THE SEA (El Maestro que Prometió el Mar), winner of the Audience award at the 2024 Gaudí Awards. The acclaimed drama, starring Enric Auquer (star of last year’s festival hit Two Many Chefs) and Laia Costa, recounts the moving true story of Antoni Benaiges, a teacher who brought progressive teaching methods to a small village in 1930s Burgos.

Closing the festival is THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (La montaña sagrad), which recently marked its 50th Anniversary. The project was famously co-funded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surreal and visually stunning avant-garde odyssey has been fully restored in lavish 4K presenting a mesmerising journey through a series of bizarre and symbolic experiences, exploring themes of spirituality, enlightenment, and the quest for transcendence.

In a similar vein, this year marks 120 years since the birth of Salvador Dalí, and the festival offers a showcase of films from and about the surrealist master. Featuring fabulous archival footage, the documentary SALVADOR DALÍ: IN SEARCH OF IMMORTALITY is an intimate and revelatory examination of the one-of-a-kind genius who managed to live a life that is a work of art unto itself. Famous Hitchcockian psychological thriller SPELLBOUND follows a psychiatrist (Ingrid Bergman) who helps an amnesiac (Gregory Peck) uncover his true identity and features a not to be missed surreal dream sequence by Salvador Dalí. Two short films, UN CHIEN ANDALOU & L’AGE D’OR, will be screened together as one session. A 1929 avant-garde short film by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, Un Chien Andalou is a dreamlike, surrealistic exploration of the subconscious; while L’Age d’Or is a surrealist tale of a man and a woman who are passionately in love, but their attempts to consummate it are thwarted by their families, the Church, and bourgeois society.

Salvador Dali: In Search of Immortality

This year’s New Spanish Cinema selection embraces a range of styles and subjects from A.I. to the art of winemaking. RIOJA: THE LAND OF A THOUSAND WINES (Rioja, la tierra de los mil vinos) explores the vibrant evolution of the Spanish wine industry through the human stories behind the vines in the famous region of Rioja.Taut political thriller set in the near future ARTIFICIAL JUSTICE (Justica Artificial), stars Verónica Echegui as a judge who must assess new Artificial Intelligence software for use in the justice system and is drawn into a high stakes conspiracy with powerful interests at play. Spanish box office hit CHECKMATES (Menudas Piezas) starring Alexandra Jiménez is based on a powerful and inspiring true story of a group of marginalised schoolkids who set out to win the Spanish Chess Championship against all odds.

Director Isabel Coixet is the subject of a special Spotlight featuring a selection of the acclaimed director’s work. These films will be presented alongside her newest release UN AMOR, a striking drama starring Laia Costa and Hovik Keuchkerian as new neighbours in a Spanish rural village who become entangled in a web of passion. Based on the novel The Dying Animal by Philip Roth and starring Ben Kingsley and Penélope Cruz, ELEGY explores the themes of love, desire and aging as it follows a distinguished professor who becomes romantically involved with one of his students. THOSE WHO LOVE (A los que aman), a subversive period piece about love, guilt, and redemption, features a luminous leading performance from Monica Bellucci as a passionate teacher entangled in a tumultuous affair. YESTERDAY NEVER ENDS (Ayer no termina nunca) is an absorbing character study from Coixet about a couple who reunite after five years apart, with one turning their history into a novel.

Un Amor

The Cine Latino selection includes a quietly powerful Argentinian drama from acclaimed writer/director Paula Hernandez, A RAVAGING WIND (El viento que arrasa), that explores a young woman’s path to change her fate. From Mexico, comes UPON OPEN SKY (A cielo abierto) set in early 1990s Mexico from a screenplay by legendary Mexican scriptwriter Guillermo Arriaga and the acclaimed drama TOTEM (Tótem) which takes place over the course of a single day in a bustling Mexican household, seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old.

Lovers of Spanish comedies will be thrilled with this year’s amusing selection. A box office hit in Spain and the third installment in the highly successful Spanish Affair movie franchise, A MOROCCAN AFFAIR (Ocho apellidos marroquís) sees the Díaz-Aguirre family’s lives flipped upside down with a trip to Morocco. In IDOL AFFAIR (Buscando a Coque) Alexandra Jiménez (also in Checkmates) and Hugo Silva star as a couple who must deal with an unexpected scenario involving the other’s idol. ONE HELL OF A HOLIDAY (¡Vaya vacaciones!) features an all-star ensemble cast and pays homage to all grandparents, as fun adventures await when two are left looking after their grandchildren yet again; and JUST ONE SMALL FAVOUR (El favor) sees the adult children of a wealthy family facing the skeletons in their closets when their late nanny leaves a series of letters for them.

The 2024 HSBC Spanish Film Festival takes place nationally from 11 June to 10 July (dates vary – and ending 17 July in Sydney) in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, Ballina and Byron Bay.

Tickets are now on sale.

Venues and dates:
Canberra 11 June – 10 July: Palace Electric Cinema
Adelaide 12 June – 10 July: Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas
Brisbane 13 June – 10 July: Palace James Street and Palace Barracks
Perth 13 June – 10 July: Palace Raine Square Cinemas, Luna Leederville and Luna on SX
Melbourne 14 June – 10 July: The Astor Theatre, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Penny
Lane, Palace Westgarth, The Kino, Palace Balwyn and Pentridge Cinema
Sydney 19 June – 17 July: Palace Norton Street, Palace Moore Park, Palace Central and Chauvel Cinema
Byron Bay 21 June – 10 July: Palace Byron Bay
Ballina 21 June – 10 July: Ballina Fair Cinemas

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