It’s been a rough year for España. In the throes of a deep financial crisis the Spanish government has made cuts to film funding and has had to raise the sales tax, which includes movie and theater tickets. One amazingly hilarious theater owner found a loophole. Instead of selling tickets directly, he offered a free ticket with the purchase of a carrot. Yes, you heard right. He sold zanahorias! Since carrots are considered a staple food item they are only taxed 4% versus theater tickets which now fall under the new sales tax of 21%. This guy es un genio! But, his carrot initiative doesn’t do much for filmmakers who are still left without vital monetary support from the government. And without pasta, plata, pesetas, feria, o lana–that means way fewer películas get made. But, even in a tough economy, some pelis made it to the finish line. The Film Society of Lincoln Center has put together a showcase of las mejores películas that came out of Spain this past year.
Spanish Cinema Now is the Film Society’s longest-running film series and runs December 7-16. The festival opens on Friday with Blancanieves, Spain’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. It’s a black and white retelling of Snow White featuring a troupe of bullfighting dwarves. Awesome! Other highlights include a retrospective celebrating the work of Luis Buñuel as a director, producer and screenwriter. The sidebar will feature two of his most acclaimed films–Tristana and Viridiana. The Instituto Cervantes New York will also join in on the Buñuel lovefest by hosting lectures and special screenings. I’m most excited to see Arrugas, an animated film about viejitos in a nursing home. It’s based on a graphic novel by Paco Roca. There are twenty films playing during the festival so I’ve narrowed it down to my Top Picks of this year’s edition of Spanish Cinema Now.Opening Night Film
Director: Pablo Berger
An extraordinary re-reading of the classic Grimm Brothers tale as a lush silent melodrama, complete with a wicked stepmother and a traveling troupe of bullfighting dwarves.
Friday, December 7 at 6:30pmWilaya
Director: Pedro Pérez Rosado
After living for years in Spain, a young woman is forced to rejoin her family in a massive refugee camp in the Western Sahara.Thursday, December 13 at 1:30pm
Sunday, December 16 at 12:00pmArrugas (Wrinkles)
Director: Ignacio Ferrera
A beautifully animated tale of resistance, friendship and life set among the inhabitants of an elderly care facility.
Sunday, December 16 at 2:00pmClosing Night Film
Hijos de las nubes, la última colonia (Sons of the Clouds)
Director: Alvaro Longoria
Academy Award-winning actor Javier Bardem takes us on a journey to the Western Sahara, where the Sahawai people wait for permission to return to their ancestral lands.
Sunday, December 16 at 8:00pm
SPANISH CINEMA NOW is presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and runs December 7-16 at the Walter Reade Theater. Tickets are $13 and are available on their website: http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/spanish-cinema-now-2012