‘Early works’ Hispanic film festival at Cervantes

The Cervantes Institute in Cairo is currently hosting its second Festival de Óperas Primeras (festival of the early works), which started on Monday .

According to Luis Javier Ruiz Sierra, director of the Spanish Cultural Institute, the festival aims to engage the public in Hispanic cinema by presenting the early works of six Spanish and Latin American movie directors from the late twentieth century.

“Cinema is instinctively accessible to all kinds of people, regardless of their language and country,” Ruiz Sierra explained. “Half of the 200 cultural activities organized by our institute are related to the cinema.”

The six movies being screened are mostly documentaries in Spanish with English subtitles, and they attempt to open a window into the wealth of contemporary Spanish-language cinema.

The festival will screen early works selected by the cinematographic section of the Cervantes Institute:  Agua con Sal (Salt Water, 2005) by Pedro Pérez Rosado, La Distancia (The Distance, 2006) by Iñaki Dorronsoro, Estrellas de la Línea (The Railroad All Stars, 2006) by Chema Rodríguez, La Línea Recta (The Straight line, 2006) by José María Orbe (screening on 15 July), Por qué se Frotan las Patitas? (Scandalous, 2006) by Álvaro Bejines (screening on 16 July), and Los Nombres de Alicia (Alice’s Names 2004) by Pilar Ruiz Gutiérrez (screening on 17 July).

The film genres are very different, ranging from dramatic movie-documentaries like Agua con Sal, to the thriller La distancia, to the funny social commentary of Por qué se frotan las patitas?.

The films touch on a variety of social issues often with a dramatic approach. In Agua con Sal the director explores the difficulties illegal immigration through the story of a Cuban girl who comes to Spain on a scholarship looking for a better life. Over time, she becomes only an illegal immigrant who suffers the vicissitudes of marginalization. With a true cinematic approach to life, Agua con Sal is a story of women struggling to survive.

Estrellas de la línea is an up-and-coming documentary film in which Valeria, Vilma, Mercy and their friends dream about being treated decently as sex workers. When change seems impossible, an event organized in the city will transform their lives overnight.

La Línea Recta is about Noelia, a young woman who works at a gas station by night, while during the day she distributes advertisements door to door. She suddenly decides to leave her home and her work, begins a journey with an unknown end.

The festival ends with Los nombres de Alicia (no English subtitles), a film about a girl, Mina, who goes to a serene provincial town to teach English and study languages. The young girl’s charm elicits people’s fascination, but things soon turn out to be different then they seem.

The Institute director is optimistic about the festival and sees much promise in Spanish-language films. “Hispanic cinema is currently doing very well, with excellent movies and cinematographic schools not only in Spain but also in Latin America, in places like Cuba and Argentina,” Ruiz Sierra said.

The Spanish Center in Dokki organizes cultural activities throughout the year, including lectures, language courses, art, music and theater. During Ramadan, the Institute will feature performances of classical and popular Egyptian and Hispanic music and poetry.

The Festival de Óperas Primeras started on 12 July and will end on 17 July. Screenings start at 7:00 pm at the Cervantes Institute in Cairo, 20, Boulos Hanna, St. Dokki – Cairo, +202 376 017 43

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