“Made in Spain” or the consecration of Spanish cinema

Madrid (AFP) – Golden Bear at the Berlinale for Catalan director Clara Simon, four Spaniards nominated for this year’s Oscars, including Penélope Cruz-Javier Bardem’s pairing: Spain’s seventh art dazzles the international stage that rolled out the red carpet for it.

“The fact that Penelope is nominated for a role in Spanish is extraordinary, historical for a Spanish brand”: when the nominations for the Oscar ceremony, which will be held on March 27, were announced, Javier Bardem did not have enough words to be delighted.

Unlike some countries with a strong cinematic DNA, Spain has so far struggled to find its place on the international stage.

Thus, Luis Buñuel is the only Spaniard to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1961 for Viridiana.

But since then, Spanish cinema has been catching up, regularly hitting the jackpot, like Carla Simon in Berlin with her film Alcarraz.

According to Variety magazine, Penélope Cruz’s name is circulating as jury president for the next Cannes Film Festival. This award was already presented in 2017 to Pedro Almodóvar, by far the most respected Iberian director abroad.

As for the Oscars, in 2009 the actress already received a statuette, but for an American film (Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona).

If she had received it for her role as Yanis in Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers, it would have been a 100% dedication to Made in Spain, especially since the film’s score received the fourth award nomination for the Basque composer Alberto Iglesias. .

The latter, who has worked with Almodóvar on 13 films for more than twenty years, confirms to AFP that the Spanish seventh art is experiencing “a very strong impulse, which is not the result of coincidences, but of a new enthusiasm.” “Education, work of film schools”.

“Maybe we started a little late, smaller industry, fewer filmmakers,” he continues.

not recognized

“It has been very difficult for Spanish cinema to break into international festivals,” adds Pilar Martínez-Vasseur, director of the Spanish Film Festival in Nantes.

Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar, September 24, 2021, San Sebastian. ANDER GILLENEA AFP/Archive

Films that were released abroad were often not identified as Spanish, she explains: who knows, for example, that Nicole Kidman’s The Others was directed by Alejandro Amenábar?

“In Spain, we still have the idea that Spanish cinema is bad, that it is a nest of communists, that directors who do nothing and are subsidized are encouraged,” she laments, calling for more “cultural diplomacy” through more support from the side of the government. Spanish government.

However, on this side of the Pyrenees, the seventh art is much less funded than in France, many specialists in this field note.

The industry has “learned to find its place in a globalized ecosystem,” says Beatriz Navas, CEO of the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts, which reports to the Ministry of Culture.

“It took a cultural broth that wasn’t made overnight (…) and enough cooking time for the works to get the recognition they deserve,” she adds.

“Best Moment”

In addition to Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Alberto Iglesias, Alberto Mielgo’s short film The Janitor was also selected for the Oscar.

Spanish director Alberto Mielgo, March 7, 2022 in Los Angeles.
Spanish director Alberto Mielgo, March 7, 2022 in Los Angeles. Neilson Barnard GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Archive

“Spanish cinema is in its prime,” says José Luis Rebordinos, director of the prestigious San Sebastian Film Festival.

“Currently there are a lot of cinema, audiovisual productions in Spain with platforms that provide a lot of work and allow Spanish technicians to be better,” he explains.

Spain, whose western scenery has attracted Hollywood since the 1960s, is becoming increasingly popular among TV series production platforms: Netflix, which opened its first European studios in Madrid in 2019, has successfully streamed Spanish series such as Casa de Papel or Elite.

During the year, the left-wing government demonstrated its ambition to “make Spain the audiovisual center of Europe” and to increase production on its territory by 30% by 2025, by investing 1.6 billion euros.

“International critics are paying more attention to our cinema thanks to the big names in cinema,” said Mr. Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastian festival.

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