About to open its doors for the 21st time, Cornerhouse’s annual ¡Viva! celebration of cinema from Spain and Spanish-speaking Latin America has long since become one of the most eagerly-anticipated events in any film lover’s calendar.
But this year, apart from the usual unique selection of great films and associated events, it’s also part of the celebrations around Cornerhouse’s move down the road to HOME. So there’s not only events at Cornerhouse from March 5, but also two further events at HOME later in the year, including a Mexican weekender in the middle of June and a further fiesta of Spanish cinema in the Autumn.
“We absolutely wanted to make sure we took the audience with us on the journey from Cornerhouse to HOME and showcase the festival in this way,” says programmer Rachel Hayward. “It’s perhaps a more manageable way to do it, given such a relatively small team working on it here, but we also thought it was important for audiences to be able to see such a popular festival in HOME rather than waiting almost a full year.”
Planning for the June event is already well-advanced with six Mexican films booked, a couple of directors due to appear and the usual range of events already in hand. They’ll be replicating the same sort of format in the Autumn, but concentrating on Spanish cinema.
¡Viva!, she agrees, fits very well with the more European-facing notion of HOME.
“We’re definitely looking forward to being able to explore opportunities with the visual arts and theatre programme. That’s going to be really interesting, finding out where those points converge.
“It’s always really exciting programming the festival but one of the hardest things in a normal year is getting the number of films down to 25. So to pare it back to five for this opening weekend was really tricky when we’d got so many films that were favourites of ours and that we knew Manchester audiences would be really interested in watching. We’ve got first films, we’ve got directors returning and, personally, I love each and every one of these films.
“We’re delighted, for instance, to welcome back writer and director Roberto Flores Prieto for the UK premiere of Ruido rosa (Pink Noise – March 8, 5.50pm; March 9, 8.40pm), just one year after presenting the UK première of his first film Cazando luciérnagas at ¡Viva! 2014. His second film is the tentative love story of a couple in their later years and, both struggling with loneliness. Living on the Caribbean coast of Colombia during the Barranquilla rainy season, they have a chance meeting.”
There’s another ‘tentative love story’, as it happens, from Ecuadorian director Diego Araujo. His debut feature Feriado (Holiday) explores race, class and sexuality through the eyes of 16-year-old Juan Pablo who, recounts Hayward, finds himself “despatched on holiday to a part of the family who are a little shady, so he finds a kindred spirit in a heavy metal fan. I can’t say too much more about it, but it’s really interesting and nicely done.” The film screens March 7 at 8.40pm and March 8 at 1.30pm.”
This year’s ¡Viva! kicks off with Santi Amodeo’s ¿Quien mató a Bambi? (Who Killed Bambi?), a farcical black comedy following a group of ordinary people dealing with extraordinary situations. Amodeo, a director, screenwriter and musician from Seville, will introduce the film at the festival’s gala opening (March 5, 6.30pm) and take part in a post-screening Q&A after the March 7; 6.10pm showing.
The festival also showcases Alfonso Zarazua’s Os Fenómenos (Aces), which tackles the themes of economic crisis and the decimation of the Spanish building industry from the perspective of a single mother. Zarazua will be taking part in a Q&A after the screening in March 8 at 8.10pm, with the film also screening on March 7 at 3.50pm.
María Victoria Menis’ María y el Araña (Maria and Spider) is an award-winning film presenting the tragic tale of two Argentine teenagers who fall between the cracks in a grossly unfair world. Unusually, that’s only screened once, on March 9 at 6.45pm.
By Kevin Bourke
For all the latest reviews and updates on films, guests and events, follow this link: cornerhouse.org/viva2015