Preview: London Spanish Film Festival, Ciné Lumière, London

Viggo, Franco and those who reign in Spain
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The Independent Culture

The director Agustin Diaz Yanes's recent box-office hit about a 17th-century soldier, Alatriste, starring Viggo Mortensen, and Fernando de France's documentary Ar meno un quejio ("If Only a Lament") about a new trend in flamenco, are just two of the highlights of the third London Spanish Film Festival.

It has taken festival director Joana Granero a year to organise the two-week-long event. She founded this festival in 2005, aiming to bring the best of contemporary Spanish film to the UK. "There is so much Spanish cinema and it wasn't reaching London. As a Spaniard and a film fan, I was really missing it," she says.

The new film Yo soy la Juani ("My name is Juani") directed by Bigas Luna, who launched Penelope Cruz's career in Jamon, Jamon, tells the story of two girls living on the outskirts of a city in Catalonia. They crave a glamorous life and escape to Madrid. Manuel Huerga's film Salvador, meanwhile, is historically important: "It portrays a period in Spain that is very delicate; the last years of the dictatorship," Granero says.

Films by fledgling directors include Victor Garcia Leon's Vete de mi ("Go Away from Me"), about a father and son reunited, and Rodrigo Cortes's Concursante ("The Contestant"), about a man ruined by a prize win.

Documentaries include Chema Rodriguez's Estrellas de La Linea ("The Railroad All-Stars"), about prostitutes in Guatemala who form a football team; Ricardo Macian Arcas's Los ojos de Ariana ("The Eyes of Ariana"), which documents the Afghan Film Institute saving film material under the Taliban, risking their lives; and Hecuba, by José Luis Lopez-Linares and Arantxa Aguirre, which portrays the job of an actor and includes an interview with Antonio Banderas.

The documentary maker Basilio Martin Patino will discuss cinema under Franco's repressive regime. His feature film Octavia – about a man who returns to Spain after a long time abroad – will be screened, as well as two of his documentaries.



14-27 September (www.londonspanishfilmfestival.com)

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