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Cinema Seville Film Festival

Radical European cinema takes centre stage

THE SEVILLE Film Festival showcased more than 200 films during its run last week, among them Spanish icon Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory and Palestinian Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven.

Almodovar’s quasi-autobiographical drama focuses on a former film director who, back in the day, confronted Spain’s repressive attitudes, while Elia Suleiman's It Must Be Heaven is a perplexed and comic look at his surroundings as he embarks on a globetrotting tour which takes in some absurd scenarios.

In a film he’s written and in which he is protagonist, Suleiman comes across as somewhere between Buster Keaton and Jaques Tati as he explores the Palestinian experience.

Funny and desperate but never pessimistic, this subtle commentary is highly imaginative.

Political and militant cinema was a feature of the programming, exemplified by Spanish director Eloy Enciso’s feature Longa Noite which explores the pain of those persecuted during the Franco regime.

It’s a portrait of a Spain — especially Galicia — of interior exile, where victims of dictatorship struggle to survive.

Two stand-out documentaries were Lech Kowalski’s Blow It To Bits, an informative and thought-provoking documentary focusing on workers at a French car factory threatened with redundancy, and Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral, which explores the impact nationally of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953.

Raising questions about propaganda, it’s a visually striking and astonishing deconstruction of an evocative ceremony.

Outside the screenings, the festival honoured the cinema of Pere Portabella who received the Giraldillo de Honor for “his militant and visionary cinema.”

Notable for his role as producer of masterpieces like Viridiana by Luis Bunuel, The Stroller by Marco Ferreri and Los Golfos by Carlos Saura, he has been a significant figure in Spanish politics and cinema of the last 50 years.

 

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