Seminci, one of the oldest and most highly regarded film festivals in all of Europe, will kick off on the 22nd of October. Although its origins can be traced back to the transmission of Catholic moral values, since the early 70’s the festival got rid of its initial religious subject-matter to embrace a new identity, more oriented towards auteur cinema, screening films that wanted to break away from the tyranny of narrative in an attempt to evolve into a new form of creative expression. During the years of the so called “Transición” (Spanish political transition), Seminci became the cultural cornerstone of Spanish society that demanded democratic changes within the State. This new political situation led to schedule films that had been banned during the dictatorship years. One of the defining moments of the festival came when A Clockwork Orange (1971), a controversial film (due to its recreation of violence and subversive nature) by director Stanley Kubrick, met its commercial debut in Spain in the 1977 edition of the festival.
Andrzej Wajda, Yilmaz Güney, Manoel de Oliveira, Nikita Mihalkov, Stanley Donen, Arthur Penn, Ken Loach, Abbas Kiarostami, Krzysztof Kieslovski, Gianni Amelio, Atom Egoyan, André Téchiné, Mike Leigh, Robert Guédiguian, Costa-Gavras, Theo Angelopoulos, Jonathan Demme, Amos Gitai, Ang Lee are some of the top-class filmmakers that have ever visited Valladolid throughout all these years. Practically all the great Spanish filmmakers including Pedro Almodóvar or Carlos Saura have been there on several occasions.
The 61st edition that will be held from 22nd -29th October and had the challenge of attracting new audiences, specially the youngest generation. Seminci is a competitive film festival that is comprised of several sections. The main one is the Sección Oficial (Official Section) with 18 feature films competing for the main award, Espiga de Oro. Punto de Encuentro (Meeting Point) is a competitive showcase of first and second films worthy of attention for their innovative conception. Time of History show a selection of socially and politically committed albeit nonpartisan cinema.
By going through the entire slate of films competing through all different sections, we’ve come up with a list a films, you shouldn’t miss. Of course they are listed in no order of preference:
King of the Belgians, Peter Brosens & Jessica Woodworth
Depicted as a “mockumentary” that “blends satirical humor with deeper underpinnings” (Variety), it was premiered during the previous edition of Venice Film Festival where it received some appraisal. It deals with a fictional King of Belgium stuck in the middle of a solar storm that causes airspace and communications to shut down while his country (subject to independence claims by the region of Wallonia and Flanders) falls apart.
Dev Bhoomi (Land of the Gods), Goran Paskaljević
A fable set in Northern India where a middle aged man, Rahul, returns home before getting completely blind, hoping to see, for one last time, his former girlfriend. This visit causes a big stir among his old neighbors who cannot forgive him for challenging the old-fashion ill system of castes.
La Pazza Gioia (Like Crazy), Paolo Virzi
A road movie about an unpredictable and moving friendship that develops between two women as they flee the mental institution where they were confined. Premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the previous edition of Cannes
Eshtebak (Clash), Mohamed Diab
Set in Cairo in 2013, two years after the Egyptian revolution and filmed entirely in a 8m police truck, Eshtebak got great reviews during its previous screening in Cannes.
Las furias, Miguel del Arco
This long- awaited feature length debut by one of the most talented Spanish play-writers, Miguel del Arco, will kick off the Official Section. It tells the story about a dysfunctional family gathering in an atmosphere of secrets, lies and about to burst tensions within the family. Miguel del Arco got the inspiration for the story out of the mythological fable of the Greek erynges, female deities of vengeance.
Junction 48, Udi Aloni
This love story about two young Palestinian hip-hop artists, who use their music to fight against oppression, won both the audience award at the previous edition of Berlinale and the international narrative competition award at Tribeca Film Festival
La Ciénaga-Entre el Mar y la Tierra, Manolo Cruz & Carlos del Castillo.
Family conflict is one of the most recurrent themes in the programming of Seminci 2016. This Colombian film won the audience award at Sundance 2016. It presents the sad story of Alberto who is afflicted with a neurological disorder that confines him to his bed. A gloomy and grim story that moved audiences at Sundance.
Contra la Impunidad, Iñaki Arteta
This documentary sets forth the deep scars that violence of terrorist group ETA inflicted within the Basque Country up to the point of making very unlikely any attempt of reconciliation. Contradictory demands of reconciliation and justice to the victims have clashed over the years in the Basque Country. Contra la Impunidad endears international audiences the drama of more than 320 civilians killed by ETA since 1968 and the profound division in Basque society as a result of those crimes.
Life, Animated, Roger Ross Williams
This documentary is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, an autistic child who discovered an unique way of communicating by immersing himself in the world of classic Disney animated films. Life, Animated is a heartwarming story that won awards both at Sundance and San Francisco International Film Festival.
Dream is Destiny, Louis Black & Karen Bernstein
Seminci is paying homage to the renowned filmmaker Richard Linklater. Hence an extensive retrospective of his films are being programmed at the festival. Dream i