AN engrossing film about the 1936 Spanish coup is just one of the highlights of this year’s Spanish Film Festival.
Directed by Alejandro Amenábar (The Others, The Sea Inside), While at War is a personal take on the coup through the eyes of celebrated Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno.
He initially supports the military rebellion hoping it will resolve the prevailing chaos in Spain, but when General Franco adds his troops to the uprising (hoping to take command of the war) the conflict turns bloody.
After some of Unamuno’s colleagues are incarcerated, he questions his initial stance and requests a meeting with Franco to ask for clemency.
While at War is just one of 20 Spanish and nine Latin America films showing at Luna Leederville and Luna SX Fremantle during the festival.
Some of them were meant to be screened at last year’s festival which was cancelled because of Covid-19.
Other highlights include the Argentinian box office smash Heroic Losers, a homespun Ocean’s 11 with Ricardo Darín and his son Chino in a comedy heist rich in local colour and unforgettable characters.
The Island of Lies is a thrilling 1920s mystery about three women who saved dozens of lives when a boat with more than 200 Spanish immigrants bound for America sinks.
At first the trio are lauded for their heroic act, but when an Argentinian journalist investigates what really happened, their story quickly unravels.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Pablo Larraín returns with Ema, an electrifying portrait of a free-spirited dancer who is forced to examine her wild lifestyle and reconcile with the past.
Starring Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal, Ema won the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.
If you prefer something a bit lighter then check out Spanish hit comedy I can quit whenever I want, following three unemployed professors who turn to the recreational drug scene to make a living with hilarious results.
Álex García stars in The Wedding Unplanned opposite Belén Cuesta (Kiki, Love to Love SFF17) an outrageous romantic comedy about a woman hired to plan her best friend’s wedding, only to fall in love with the groom.
The Spanish film festival is on April 28 – May 16. For tix and more info go to lunapalace.com. au/festivals
The opening night at Luna Leederville includes a 6.30pm reception with tapas from Pincho’s, fresh sangria, Estrella Damm Beer, red and white wine, before the screening of Rosa’s Wedding at 7pm.
By STEPHEN POLLOCK