La Película showcases Spanish cinema

Films from several Spanish-speaking countries will be at Světozor

The La Película festival of Spanish-language films run Feb. 13 to 18 in Prague at Kino Světozor and will present films from Spain, Mexico, Venezuela, and Panama. Some festival films will also be at Ostrava, Hradec Králové and Brno.

A broad array of recent films covers comedy, thrillers, horror films, documentaries and biographies. Many of the films won awards or were commercial successes at the box office. Most films have English and Czech subtitles. Several films shot in Catalan, though, only have Spanish and Czech subtitles as three sets of titles would be too distracting.

The opening is Tarde para la ira (Pozdě na hněv / The Fury of a Patient Man), which made its debut at the Venice International Film Festival and later in Spain won four Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best New Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay. The modern-day revenge thriller takes some unexpected turns.

Cinephiles can have a look at the life of director Carlos Saura, now in his 80s. The documentary Saura(s) (Saurovi) has the filmmaker meeting with six of his seven adult children, some of whom have close working relationships with him and some who have been a bit distant. One son, Shane Chaplin Saura, who is also Charlie Chaplin’s grandson, decided not to participate but sent a letter. Carlos Saura is known for directing several arthouse hits in the 1970s and a trilogy of flamenco films in the 1980s including Blood Wedding. After some coaxing, Saura talks frankly about his life.

A big film from Venezuela is El Inca, the true story of pro boxer Edwin Valero, undefeated two-weight world champion. His meteoric career came crashing down when he was arrested on suspicion of killing his wife. The film, shot on a low budget, was Venezuela’s submission for an Oscar, but it was not nominated. Currently, the film is banned in Venezuela due to legal objections from Valero’s family.

Horror fans will be looking forward to Verónica (Veronika), which teaches teen girls once again not to play with Ouija boards. The film has a 100 percent rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Critics did find a few faults but overall praised its effectiveness in delivering jolts. Director Paco Plaza is known for the REC series of horror films.

Another horror film is Compulsión (Obsese / Compulsion), which has so far just played at a few festivals. A woman suspects her husband is cheating and starts to pry into his life. But what she finds out isn’t what she expected and it turns her life upside down.

The mock documentary Selfie (Selfíčko) has a young wealthy man from a privileged family out on his own when his father is arrested for corruption and all the family assets are confiscated. The young man now has to live among the lower classes.

Marisa en los bosques (Marisa v lesích / Marisa in the Woods) is a tragic comedy of a young woman who feels like she is an extra in her own life, and finds many of her friends feel the same.

A special focus in this year’s festival is actress and singer Ana Belén, who in 2017 received a special Goya Award for lifetime achievement. Five films she appeared in a shot between 1974 and 1986 will be shown. These Demonios en el jardín (Démoni v zahradě / Demons in the Garden), a 1980 drama set in the early Franco era, and La casa de Bernarda Alba (Dům Bernardy Alby / The House of Bernarda Alba), based on a play by Federico García Lorca about a strict mother and her five daughters.

There are more films as well, including a documentary about football in Panama called Fuerza del balón and a look at domestic abuse in Central America, based on real events, called Sin voz.

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