Coffee and culture.

Matthew Hull

Where else could you possibly expect to find Mexican satire, post-Soviet photographic art and (almost) live creature features sharing the same quarters?  Matthew Hull checks out what’s in store this spring at Cornerhouse.

For over a quarter of a century Cornerhouse has been not only the home of arthouse cinema in Manchester but also of trailblazing visual art and great coffee. Easily as much a part of the Manchester cultural landscape as the Haçienda ever was, this is the place where enigmatic football icon Eric Cantona came for his culture fix while serving at Old Trafford and where perennially contentious film critic Mark Kermode was given a smack for badmouthing Blue Velvet. So Cornerhouse is not only somewhere to see art and film but also a place to sit and discuss them, over a drink of course.

The ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival returns for its 17th year on 5 March with an electrifying programme that takes in challenging independent documentaries such as Los Pecados de mi Padre, the staggering video memoir of the son of notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar, and the toast of the Spanish box office, Gordos, a warmly absurdist satire set in a Madrid weight-loss group. Running alongside the season of films is a solo show from Colombian artist Oscar Munoz, whose mesmerizing work consists of innovative water-borne portraits which warp and collapse over time, prompting the visitor to reflect on the themes of memory, identity and loss.

Identity is also central to Carey Young’s new exhibition at the Cornerhouse, Memento Park. Young uses photography to comment on the shifting character of the enormous Soviet-era statues that still loom large over a post-iron curtain and hesitantly consumerist Budapest. Surrounded by lush greenery and indifferent modern development, these once imposing ogres now feel more like docile giants.

There is a frightening golem of a different kind on 17 March as, hot on the heels of the Oscar-tipped 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle, himself a patron of Cornerhouse, presents his own production of proto-creature feature Frankenstein. The play, which marks Boyle’s return to theatre (where he cut his teeth), will be broadcast simultaneously from the National Theatre in London to Cornerhouse, and over 100 other cinemas nationwide as part of National Theatre Live. Surely there can be no-one better suited to bring to life Mary Shelley’s seminal tale of the monstrous and the human than the man who shot 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire. With it already shaping up to be another incredible year for films and exhibitions, we’ll meet you on the corner.

Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford Street, M1 5NH (200 1500). ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival, 5-20 March. Memento Park, Galleries 2 & 3. 5-20 March. Free. Frankenstein, 17 March 2011. 6.45pm. £15/£13.50. Images (from top:) Carey Young, Memento Park; Gordos.

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