- Posted by Julia Burns
- On April 10, 2021
- Goya awards
by Laura Obiols
Our Arts Editor talks with 4 of the 166 nominees for the Goya Awards in Spain for reasons that will resonate with BBS members.
The Goya Awards (Premios Goya) are the Spanish main film awards, established by the Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España. The award itself is a bronze bust of the painter Francisco Goya.
The 35th Goya Awards gala took place in Málaga, presented by Antonio Banderas and María Casado, last Saturday 6th of March. It came in a hybrid format: face-to-face with hosts of the ceremony, interpreters, and those who delivered the awards, and the 166 nominees of the edition connected virtually from their homes. The Goya 2021 honoured all members of the film industry, especially those who are not in front of the cameras, but are still an essential part of filmmaking.
Cartas Mojadas (Drowning Letters)
by Paula Palacios
Cartas Mojadas, nominated to best documentary, narrates through a mysterious voice from the bottom of the sea, the most tragic reality in our contemporary history: the fight that migrants have to deal with every day. Following letters written from mothers to sons, the voice accompanies the NGO Open Arms ship, on a mission, fighting to save 550 people from a shipwreck. With stunning cinematography, Palacios wants to awaken the social conscience by giving voice to those whose voices were taken by the sea.
The motivation to make this film came from the director realizing that audiences in the West were not thrilled when a new film about migrants was released. She thought a different type of movie was needed, to explain this hard reality in a more poetic way. “Everything we see in the film happened for real. It was key to curate the cinematography very carefully and make it visually pleasant, I wanted the audience fly by the beautiful images and emotions, get immersed in the story, and then suddenly come back to their seat and realize that they were watching a real rescue, suffering it with them, something that happens everyday and we forget. This is the dramatic reality of a tragic story”, Palacios explains.
“It took me a year to get a visa to Libya, and 5 years to make the film, I had to fly with a Libyan crew as the only European, there were dangerous areas where they traffic with people, petrol… not far from Europe, today. I found out I was pregnant whilst I was there, and it was a surprise that added an extra emotional layer to the film. We decided to embark on board with one of the vessel ships (Open Arms) that helps the migrants. That is when the movie started to take shape. We managed to shoot the last rescue of the Aquarius vessel. Everytime there are less and less NGOs in the Mediterranean”, she explains.
She felt very responsible about making the film and giving the right message. She is still very impressed with the audience´s reaction, specially young people. They are now taking the movie to schools and universities as well as cinemas and platforms, to raise awareness and with the ultimate goal to stop the current migration agreement which pretends to take the migrants back to the hell they come from taking many lives on the way.
“My next project is called “My brother Ali”, a personal story of a boy from Somalia I met 8 years ago in a prison in Ukraine”, Palacios, who has been defined like the Ken Loach of the Spanish documentary films, explains with excitement in her eyes.
El Olvido Que Seremos (Forgotten we’ll be) by Fernando Trueba
Based on a Colombian novel that is a memorial to the author’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his murder by paramilitaries in 1987.
With his film, that won the Goya to Best Iberoamerican Film in this 35th edition, Trueba, intimately narrates the life of a good man, the doctor Héctor Abad Gómez, a charismatic social leader and family man, a prominent doctor and human rights activist in the polarized and violent Medellín of the 70s. It is a portrait of the doctor´s life; a father concerned both for his children and for the children of the least favored classes.
When discussing with Trueba that the press has defined the film as a passionate chant to the family and the absolute beauty, and all the good words that critics have said about the film, and sharing that I could not stand up from my sit after watching it, he smiles with extreme humility, “I was dreaming of each frame for a long time and I felt really connected with the main character”, Trueba says.
“My next film will also stay in Latinamerica, I am working on a animation movie about the figure of the pianist Tenorio Junior”, Trueba explains. Music is a huge part his world, he feels really comfortable with the improvisation that Jazz brings and thinks it is the purest way of music. He needs this risk in music, in cinema and in life. “To make a movie is always an audacity, an impossible
task, a huge improvisation, and although I am older now, I jump into the water with the same passion and madness that I had when I was in my 20s”, the multi awarded director, including several Oscars, shares. He has managed to create a masterpiece which feels alive, a homage to dignity, loyalty and honesty. “I thought this movie about a humanist, about Colombia, about a man that dedicates his life to others was necessary, and this man is someone I would really love to meet and be good friend with if he was alive”, Trueba smiles.
Anatomía de un Dandy (Dandy´s Anatomy) by Charlie Arnaiz and Alberto Ortega
Anatomía de un Dandy portrays one of the most important journalists and writers of all times in Spain: Francisco Umbral. Through exhaustive documentation work, such as cassette tapes with intimate and unpublished interviews, a new dimension of his persona is opened. The documentary features valuable testimonies from the writer’s widow, friends and fellow colleagues, shedding light on some of the most unknown aspects of his life.
Umbral is the personification of the word ambition. Someone who at the age of 5 decided to be the best writer and create a character to achieve it is a person who really has it clear in life. He had to fight with his extreme sensitivity, that he always covered and appeared opaque and distant, to protect himself from the world. “I think the only person who know who he was with accuracy is his widow María España, whose relationship transcended beyond the typical relationship”, the directors reflect.
“What they told us about Umbral, did not fit with the image we all have of him, a grumpy writer with a red scarf; when we started researching, we discovered a character with many lights and shadows that deserved a great documentary”, Arnaiz and Ortega explain.
They never expected this would bring them to a very well deserved Goya nomination to Best Documentary and felt it as an absolute present as the documentary section was very solid, with big names and great stories, like theirs.
Having 8 months of pandemic to be able to edit was an absolute luxury to the team, because they could be immersed in making every detail as they wanted. Although it was no easy to cope with the continuous restrictions, they are grateful the could screen it during the pandemic “On the day of the premiere, we had to
literally run back to the hotel due to the strict curfew, it felt like a nightmare, after so many days and nights working on the film”, they remember. They have been on in cinemas for more than 6 weeks and the first weekend that was in one of the platforms the film was watched by more than 15.000 people.
“When we found archive material, with his son Pincho and interviews, from his last years of life, we felt we had all we needed to tell his real story”, they share. And they did, in the most honest, powerful and poetic way.
Nieva en Benidorm (It Snows in Benidorm) by Isabel Coixet
Nieva en Benidorm is a film by Spanish director Isabel Coixet that has been also nominated in this 35th Goya´s edition for Best Director and for Best Production Manager. The whole movie is in English which is quite innovative in Spanish films. It tells the story of Peter, who has worked all his life at a Manchester bank. When he is awarded an early retirement, he decides to visit his brother in Benidorm “The New York of Alicante”, only to discover that he’s disappeared. And then… the story begins. Peter will become embroiled in an investigation with an uncertain outcome and will meet two women who will cause him to re-examine the life he has been living: a policewoman who adores poetry, and a burlesque star who conceals pearls about her alluring body.
Having lived in London for 22 years I felt a great melancholy, and it thought it was a very refreshing eccentric wonder to watch. “Here, hedonistic pensioners rub shoulders with stag and hen parties and youngsters in search of sun, sex and raves. It’s a mini-country of wonders where anything is possible, and that’s why I brought British actor Timothy Spall, to its towering high-rises and sandy beaches”, the director explains. His acting is the definition of perfection.
“I wrote the script many years ago. Pedro (Almodóvar) asked me if I had something I would like to shoot, I shown him the script and El Deseo wanted to produce it, so we started this adventure; I don´t know if I have made a good movie but I can tell you that this is the craziest film I have done in my whole career”, Coixet explains.
The movie is a trip, with many touches of humor, well curated clichés, a kiss through a window, that can make us think of the pandemic and what we are living, great twists, and a sense of fantasy and revelation, seen through the eyes of the main character, realizing that his life is changing, that there is another world very different from the one he had known and accepting that he will not probably return to Manchester. “I try to suggest that life, true life, can begin at any time, even when it is believed that is no longer possible ”, the director concludes.