As surely as the end of summer, the Venice Film Festival will soon be underway. From September 1st to September 11th, the festival will host a slew of films from 35 countries. In case you were wondering, the lands south of the good ol’ US of A will be out in full force with 10 films in total.
Not only is the Venice Film Festival one of the most prestigious in the world, it is also the oldest. Founded in 1932, the festival has awarded many golden lions–the most coveted of awards. Shockingly enough none have been awarded to a Spanish-speaking country. The runner up award (the Silver Cup) has only been awarded twice to a Spanish-speaking film: Argentina in 1986 for A King and His Movie and Spain in 1992 for Jamón Jamón.
As if you’re not shocked enough, the Volpi Award–their version of best actor–has gone to only one Spanish speaking actor twice: Javier Bardem. What…Venice thinks it’s too good for us or something?
Things could be different this year. Only two Spanish speaking films (Spain’s A Sad Trumpet Ballad and Chile’s Post Mortem) will be competing for the Golden Lion. With such a crop of talent (plus, Machete is being screened, so there!) Spain could make history. As for the films themselves, here they are!
En El Futuro
[Dir. Mauro Andrizzi]
The sole entry from Argentina, Andrizzi’s film will be screened for the Orizzonti competition, a section of films that reflect new trends in cinema and documentaries. Not surprisingly, En El Futuro is quite unconventional. A man who used to live in a house becomes a living part of the structure, becoming a ghost yet living amongst new owners through the years. Of course, you wouldn’t have gathered that from the trailer.
[Dir. Pablo Larrain]
Fresh from last year’s critically lauded Tony Manero, Larrain revisits 1970s Chile in Post Mortem. In fact, he uses the same lead, Alfredo Castro. That’s where the similarities end, however, as Larrain’s film is about a lonely man who is smitten with a burlesque dancer. The 1973 coup serves as the backdrop of the film. Larrain has already shown the effects of dictatorship in his last film. Sure, this may seem like a retread but for Larrain, there is unfinished business with the 1970s. Who are we to differ? This is also one of the contenders for the Golden Lion; its either this or A Sad Trumpet Ballad….and a bunch of other high profile films. No pressure!
[Dir. Laura Amelia Guzman, Israel Cardenas]
A Haitian professor in Santo Domingo suffers from what apparently is depression. An intensely personal journey, the professor tries to find a reason for his existence or even a reason to feel special. Maybe it’s just him, but then again, behind the island’s idyllic beauty, lies uneasiness and dread.
[Dir. Guillermo Arriaga]
Set during the Mexican Revolution in 1914, two children live with their grandparents after their parents were killed. One day, one of the children falls down a well and is forced to wait for help. A film that uses the revolution as a backdrop and as a major plot device, El Pozo marks a return by the acclaimed screenwriter after the lukewarm reception of The Burning Plain. Remarkably, he seems to have dispensed with the intertwining story mechanic that is his signature style.
Verano de Goliat
[Dir. Nicolas Pereda]
Imagine waking up one day and finding out your spouse ran out on you. No, I am not speaking from personal experience (jerk!). This is the premise of Verano de Goliat. The heartbroken woman goes on a quest for answers. As she goes around town, the story becomes a portrait of an entire town in all its sad glory. The film is a bit similar to Shohei Imamura’s A Man Vanishes, right down to the quasi-documentary feel.
[Dir. Lluis Galter]
In the early 1950s a Spanish rebel nicknamed Caracremada resurrects an almost-dead struggle against the Franco regime. Problem is, he is the resistance. It seems like Franco did a great job of destroying any and all resistance in the preceding years. Nevertheless, Caracremada continues his struggle against the regime, showing the dedication of a dying breed.
[Dir. Jose Luis Guerin]
Sometimes, the travels of a director to film festivals can be in itself a movie. Acclaimed Catalan director Jose Lluis Guerin documented his travels around the world in an unorthodox fashion for Guest. Instead of simply documenting his experiences, his focus is on the people he meets. From festivals to showing daily life in the world’s major cities, Guerin made a film less about filmmaking itself and more as a portrait of those around him.
Balada Triste de Trompeta
[Dir. Alex de la Iglesia]
Set during the Spanish Civil War, two clowns are recruited by local militias to bolster the ranks. Yes, the militias thought it would be a rad idea to take two bozos and arm them to carry out massacres throughout the village. Anyway, the two are friends and are in love with a woman. The militia wastes no time in sending the two out to carry out not-so-nice things, like killing innocent people. This is Spain’s entry for the Golden Lion. Cross your fingers.
[Dir. Andrucha Waddington]
Spain’s Siglo de Oro is the focus of this film as the titular character, Lope, having returned from war is torn between two dames. A biopic as well as a romance film, the movie takes a look at the legendary playwright during his formative years. As you can guess, this love triangle is full of passion and misfortune. Dropped pantaloons are guaranteed.
[Dir. Robert Rodriguez]
Danny Trejo stars as a former federale who has been set up in an assassination plot. As common sense and a trailer can show, much blood letting and violence follows. Rodriguez has assembled an impressive cast for Machete: Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, even Lindsay Lohan appears. But, the one cast member that has us reeling in wonder and confusion is Steven Seagal. Yes, the ponytail himself will star as the villain. Besides that, the film has been controversial in right-wing circles due to a fake trailer shown during Cinco de Mayo. It depicted a group of illegal immigrants lead by Trejo fighting back against the guys who screwed them over. That is just what we want to see. Opens nationwide on September 3rd.