Presented in Association with the American Film Institute and the Consulate General of Spain, San Francisco
Starting today and continuing through the month of March the Archive will present a film series devoted to the “New Spanish Cinema,” including many Bay Area Premieres. The majority of films in this series were personally selected by Michael Webb, AFI Director of National Film Programming, whose introduction to the series we print below:
“For 35 years, following the Civil War, the Spanish cinema was under tight control, subject to censorship by state and church. A few directors - the emigré Buñuel, Bardem and Berlanga, Ferreri and Saura - were able occasionally to defy the restrictions, and make personal statements rooted in the real world. Many more limited themselves to safe subjects and escapist entertainments.
“The new Spanish cinema was born in those years, but it began to flourish only during the decline and fall of Franco, as censorship wavered and was finally abolished. The pendulum swung to the left. The Civil War, once treated as a sacred mission or as an enigmatic trauma, was openly explored from the Republican point of view. Other tabus - sex, army and church, the family - were attacked with vigor and, occasionally, the black humor that Buñuel alone, in exile, had been able to provide.
“Cinema has become, over the past five years, a mirror for the new Spain. The new freedom has brought license, and a liberation of previously repressed talent: a dangerous yet exhilarating mixture of art and militancy. The main threat to the survival of Spanish films today is economic; a cinema that was formerly a ward of the state, protected and subsidized, is compelled to struggle in a free market against rising costs, a fickle audience and fierce overseas competition.
“This... selection of recent films illustrates the diversity and special flavor of the new Spanish cinema. Over half the program comes from two talented independent producers (there are no studios) - Elias Querejeta and Jose Luis Borau (who is also one of Spain's finest directors). (Five) of the films were produced in Barcelona, evidence of the increasingly vigorous Catalonian cinema. There are films on the war, on contemporary society, and above all on the complexities of personal relationships. Together they challenge the achievement of any European country and demand the attention of American audiences, who have long neglected Spanish movies.
“This program was made possible through the generous cooperation of the Ministry of Culture's Department of Cinema, notably Luis Escobar de la Serna, Carmelo Rivera and Diego Figueroa; together with the producers in Madrid and Barcelona cited in the following notes. My special thanks to Jose Luis Borau, Elias Querejeta, Peter Besas, Helena Matas, Jose Vicuna, Jaime Chavarri, Mathilde Grange, Gonzalo and Mariette Herralde in Spain, and to Jose Manuel Paz, the Consul General of Spain in Los Angeles.”
The Archive would also like to thank Vicente Ramirez-Montesinos, Consul General of Spain in San Francisco, for his cooperation and assistance in bringing this program to the Bay Area.