Last Tuesday night, Palace Cinemas threw a massive party for the opening of the Spanish Film Festival. In spite of the memorably inclement weather, the atmosphere of the fiesta was not to be dampened.
The crowd sparkled – and not only because of the wine glasses and cava flutes catching the light. Special guests in attendance included the festival’s patron, Rafael Bonachela, director of the Sydney Dance Company, and actress Elena Anaya, best known for her role starring opposite Antonio Banderas in Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In. Also making their way to Sydney for the festival’s 18th birthday this year are actors Eulalia Ramon and Amiran Terekhov as well as director César Espada.
Spanish Affair, the film chosen to open the festival, made history when it was released in Spain last year. Better known as Ocho Apellidos Vascos, it surpassed all previous box office records for the sale of Spanish original language film. Grossing second highest of any film ever, outstripped only by James Cameron’s Avatar, it has redefined the meaning of success for local Spanish cinema.
It is a rom-com about an improbable couple, worlds apart for the simple reason that she is Basque, and he Andalusian. They are thrown together by the unexpected arrival of Amaia’s long estranged father and her desire to convince him that she is happily engaged to be married.
What ensues is a delightfully funny plot, driven forward by that special balance of coincidence and cause and effect that forms the basis of any great comedic situation.
The Spanish context is so central to this film that one might expect its concept to be completely inaccessible to the uninitiated. On the contrary, however, this difference adds to the enjoyment – one is constantly guessing, constantly surprised.
Film may be one of the best ways to gain insight into what other people think, how they live and what matters to them. For that reason, above all else, we recommend that you attend the festival this week.
Venues: Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona
Price: $17/$14 Mondays