Friday, 26 December 2008

Goya paints blind sunflowers

José Luis Cuerda’s Los girasoles ciegos (The Blind Sunflowers) received the most nominations for the Spanish Academy’s 2009 Goya Awards. Los girasoles received a total of 15 nominations includen best director, best film, best actor (Raúl Arévalo), best actress (Maribel Verdú), and best adapted screenplay (José Luis Cuerda and Rafael Azcona).

Los girasoles ciegos is the first production co-produced by the Galician public-private company SempreCinema, and was partially shot in several locations in Ourense province. This film has also been selected as the Spain’s entry for the 2009 best foreign language film Academy Award.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

To dub or not to dub

There is a debate in Galicia about the need of a new public service for dubbing and subtitling into Galician. Almost everybody here has an opinion about this matter. Here comes mine.

To start with, in a market like the Spanish film market, conditioned since 1941 for an abnormal situation such as the generalization of dubbing, the debate over the language of projection could prove controversial. The situation in Galicia and Spain in general has no equivalent elsewhere in the world, except for countries like Italy, France or Germany. Furthermore, Spain is behaving like a single market for the acquisition of rights, distribution and exhibition, whose common bond is the Spanish language.

From an artistic point of view, dubbing represents an aberrant alteration of the creative process, an assault on the original creative work. As a consequence, dubbing can only be justified in the context of a process of linguistic normalization. In this case, strategies must be those that maximize the impact (in terms of number of new speakers or speakers preserved for a given language, Galician in our case) compared to the budget available.

In this context, and with few exceptions, available data show that international or Spanish film releases in Galician language are not the ones preferred by the Galician public. Only great success cases of Spanish cinema identified by the public as Galician (for their Galician production or their Galician locations), obtained comparable results in both versions, Galician and Spanish. When the two versions are premiered together in Galicia, Spanish versions get a better response from the public than Galician ones.

At what extent do make sense policies directed to the massive support to the dubbing of American productions, policies that will involve public coin to finance copies and dubbing? On the other side, these policies will ultimately represent a rendition to an industrial and cultural colonization that imposes severe limitations to the restoration of a distinctive Galician film culture.

But nothing prevents the Galician language being as cinematic as any other language. Mel Gibson shot in Aramaic and Mayan, Clint Eastwood opted for the Japanese. Subtitles in English, Spanish or Galician made these films perfectly understandable outside their respective language areas, which incidentally is a proof that a language can be disseminated internationally through movies. On the other side, dubbing will distort or prevent such dissemination. Examples such as The Sea Inside, which was released in the US in its original Spanish and Galician mix of languages, show us that any policy of dissemination of the Galician language using movies as a vehicle should start addressing the production sector.

Complementarily, you can develop targeted actions to release Galician-dubbed versions to theatres in cases where the expected impact will justify the effort, as indeed does the Galician General Secretariat of Linguistic Policy with some productions aimed at children.

And hence our first conclusion: public audiovisual policies in Galicia should be directed, on the one hand, to the support of audiovisual productions in original Galician language, and to support productions with a relevant participation of the Galician audiovisual sector or of Galicia itself through the many Galician locations. In any case, supported productions should show a clear international vocation, regardless of the language of shooting.

However, this is not the case of television, where the Galician public operator is committed to an integral Galician programming grid, either dubbed of produced in Galician. In addition, there are programs, obviously in Galician, which get share and rating figures exceeding those of major TV stations in Spanish, and even dominate the prime time slot in many cases. Having the same potential viewers than theatres, the audience of TVG is dramatically higher than attendance to Galician cinemas… in any language.

Consequently, any effort towards the normalization of the Galician language that takes TV as the preferred audiovisual medium is going to have a far more positive impact than a similar effort led to the movies and cinemas.

And here the second conclusion: if you have to put public money into Galician productions, and promoting the use of Galician is an objective, opt for audiovisual and cinematographic works in Galician suitable for broadcasting on TVG.

Moreover, and as a final conclusion, the existence of a linguistic normalization service in TVG, created in September 2007, would meet the requirements with respect to a public organization devoted to dubbing and subtitling of audiovisual works.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Agua at Rio Gallegos

Ozo Perozo Porteiro’s short film Auga (Water), has been awarded the Jury’s Special Mention / Plot Category at the 5th AlExtremo Short Film Festival, which took place in Argentinean Rio Gallegos from 5th to 7th December. Jury members pointed out “the extreme originality of its plot, its narrative synthesis, its technical excellence and its resource economy”.

This is the first prize received by Auga outside Spain, a short film that has already participated in around 50 festivals and events like the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Market, Court-Metrange Rennes, San Francisco’s Dead Channels Festival or Festival de Cine & Video Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires.

Congratulations again, Ozo!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

25 years of Mamasunción

From celebration to celebration, let us celebrate now the 25th anniversary of the seminal work of Chano Piñeiro (1954 – 1995) Mamasuncion (1984, 35mm, 20 min.).

This film was the first pro work of Chano, after his 8mm productions Os paxaros morren no aire (1977) and Eu, o tolo (1978-1982). Based on a real story, Mamasunción is about Aunt Sunción, and old woman that for 40 years has been waiting for a letter from her son, an emigrant in America. Every day she visited the Post Office in her little village waiting for a letter that will never come. But one day that letter arrives announcing the death of the beloved son, together with her unexpected wealth, as her son legated his many possessions to her.

Mamasunción received many awards in Spanish and international festivals (Don Quixote Award at 1985 Cracow Film Festival, Oberhausen, Tetuán, Figueira da Foz...) In my opinion, is one of the best short films ever shot in Galicia. Indeed, if shot today, I presume it would have the same impact it had when was originally premiered.

To celebrate this event, the Galician government has just published a nice large-format book collecting some interesting texts about Mamasunción, both from Chano and other friends and experts, the original annotated script, and the original annotated production budget.

The Scaffold revisited

Rogelio Amigo's El Andamio (The Scaffold, 1958) celebrates its 50th anniversary. The film will be presented next Tuesday at the Galician Center of Image Arts CGAI after the restoration of the original negative, together with the documentary film 50 años en el andamio (50 years on a scaffold), which describes the restoration process performed by CGAI and producer Lili Films, and the keys and alternate interpretations of the film.

This film is one of the most relevant milestones of Galician cinema. Its context (the Spanish Civil War), its unusual format and duration (16mm, 35 min.), the presence of elements from some of the most relevant tendencies of that time, and the characteristics of the production process, convert El Andamio into a work of creation worth of being preserved for future generations. The film is a showcase of film theory and the use of filming resources, and takes the most of its locations in A Coruña.

El Andamio is about Juan, a construction worker that dies after falling from a scaffold. Apparently an accident, a long flash-back to the first days of the Spanish Civil War when Juan receives a pack of valuable objects from some men.

Monday, 8 December 2008

No-Do content to enrich CGAI archive

The Galician Centre of Image Arts CGAI will host a copy of the content related to Galicia from the Noticiero Documental (No-Do) audiovisual archives. This is the consequence of an agreement signed today between the Spanish Ministry of Culture' Spanish Film Archive and the Galician Government.

No-Do (Noticiero Documental / Documentary Newsreel) was created in 1942 by dictator Francisco Franco’s regime as a diffusion service of news and reportages, filmed in Spain and abroad “to maintain, with its own drive and under convenient directives, the national cinematographic information”. No-Do was granted exclusive rights to newsreel production, and exhibition in all cinemas of Spain and its colonies was compulsory. No-Do accompanied all theatrical programs along thirty two years from 4th, January 1943 to 1975, when its compulsory exhibition was abolished.

No-Do programs usually opened with the tune “His Excellency the Chief of State, Generalísimo Franco…” The peculiar narrator’s voice and the repeated images of General Franco visiting factories and construction works is engraved in the memory of several Spanish generations.

Albeit its easily recognizable propagandistic bias, an attentive viewer will have the chance of reading between lines and discover the actual reality of that period through what they tried to hide: the insistence of promoting an homogeneous way of thinking, the abusive presence of the Catholic Church and the military in the Spanish society, the evolution of the economic strategies of the regime through the years, the interaction with other countries, democratic or not...

All in all, I think this is good news for Galicia, Galician researchers and the general public, as we will have first-hand access to a most relevant part of our audiovisual historical memory.

I presume that Galician-centered exhibition programs based on this material are to come in the near future. Keep in tune…

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Galician cinema travels to Madrid

Starting 9th, December, Filmoteca Española’s Cine Doré will host a showcase of Galician cinema that reflects some of the most relevant milestones of our audiovisual history.

The showcase is initiated with two examples of the collaboration between Filmoteca Española and the Galician Centre for Image Arts CGAI for the recovering and conservation of the historical audiovisual patrimony related to Galicia: La Casa de la Troya (Alejandro Pérez Lugin & Manuel Noriega, 1924) and La Bandera Negra (Amando de Ossorio, 1956)

Other titles in the program are:

  • Galicia (Carlos Velo, 1936)
  • Arde Amor (Raul Veiga, 1999)
  • Rafael (Javier Bermúdez, 2008)
  • Liste, pronunciado Lister (Margarita Ledo, 2007)
Get the Cine Doré’s December 2008 complete program here.

A blue ray casts new light onto Pradolongo

Ignacio Villar’s Pradolongo will be the first full feature production shot in Galician to be published in the high definition BluRay format.

The film from producer Vía Láctea, which will also appear in DVD, will be available at Galician stores from 9th December, and from January 2009 elsewhere.

The disk includes Spanish, Euskera, Catalán, French, English and Portuguese subtitles, a videoclip with the film’s main theme Quen Poidera Namorala performed by Luis Emilio Batallán, the TV spot, the theatrical trailer, and a photo gallery.