Euthanasia, moral bankruptcy of the Franco era, and disintegration of history are some of the main themes of this year s Spanish Cineform that kicks off next Sunday and ends on Wednesday at the Cairo Opera House s Artistic Creativity Center.
The films screening at the Cineform are ranked among the greatest Spanish movies from the country s most celebrated filmmakers.
Five of the participating films deal both directly and metaphorically with various implications of Franco s regime. Most famous of the group is Luis Buñuel s 1962 masterpiece The Exterminating Angel; a biting, ferocious and devious attack on the pretentiousness, hypocrisy and vanity of the Spanish bourgeoisie.
The film centers on a group of rich dinner guests trapped, by some unidentified supernatural force, in a party they can t leave. As their guises start to crumble and basic instincts govern their savage behavior; their true appalling colors are steadily revealed.
Juan Antonio Bardem explores the wide gap between the wealthy and the underprivileged in Age of Infidelity. This film noir revolves around a geometry professor who runs over a poor villager while taking a trip with his married, rich mistress. While the professor is driven to a self-destructive path by his conscious, his mistress weaves multiple schemes to avert expulsion from the comfort of her social circle without feeling an ounce of regret for the innocent man she co-murdered.
A gloomier outlook on the same subject is Mario Camus 1984 The Holy Innocents, a chronicle of the oppression and injustice forced upon a small family in the Spanish countryside. Camus intimate, unflinching piece of social realism depicts the callousness of the feudal ruling class that, at several instances in the film, becomes difficult to witness or fathom.
Luis García Berlanga s classic 1953 Bienvenido Mister Marshall is the country s most famous social satire. The smart, sharp comedy tells the story of a quiet village that goes haywire when a group of American officials decide to bestow upon its citizens substantial economic aid after an expected visit. As the village residents prepare for the visit, their dreams, struggles and corruption of the Spanish bureaucrats are revealed.
Carlos Saura s 1975 Cría cuervos (Raise Ravens), on one level, is a sober, heartbreaking psychodrama about a young girl attempting to cope with and comprehend the adult universe after her parents death. Underneath the tender, plot-free story of Ana is a political allegory where Ana s aunt embodies the repressive, authoritarian policies of Franco while the absence of truth and the ambiguity reflects the sense of bafflement reigning over Spain prior to Franco s death.
The most well-known film of this selection is Alejandro Amenábar s The Sea Inside, winner of the 2005 s Oscar for best foreign film. Based on a true story, Javier Bardem plays the role of a quadriplegic who fought for 30 years to have the right to end his life. Amenábar s delicate storytelling veers between the dream life that stifles Bardem s character from accepting his malady, and the real world that bursts equally with emotional anguish and pure love from his family and friends. The film never feels like a preachy, pro-euthanasia statement; it s a story of choice, twisted means of love and sacrifice.
On a different note, the 2001 documentary En construcción traces the deconstruction of an old building compartment that s being replaced by a swanky apartment building in Barcelona over a period of 18 months. By focusing on a small group of soon-to-be evicted tenants, the film unfolds to resemble a document on a place, culture, and an entire history preparing to pass on and vanish. As the residents watch their past lives disappear, a new featureless humanity is set up to question the true meaning behind concepts of home, memories and community.
Please check the daily agenda on page 8 for the Cineform films schedule.