¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival is consistently one of the highlights of HOME’s programme. Set over three weeks, the festival, now in its 25th year, features as a series of films, theatre shows and pop-up events that generate a buzz that reaches every corner of the building. Filmwise, this year’s line-up includes 21 new films, including nine new premieres, five director Q&As and seven archive film screenings. As curator Rachel Hayward remarks in her programme notes, there is something vital about this kind of cross-border presentation at a time when their enforcement is such big news.
there is something vital about this kind of cross-border presentation at a time when their enforcement is such big news
The festival opens on Friday 22 March with the UK premiere of Tiempo después (Some Time After) attended by the Spanish director José Luis Cuerda. A distopian satire, the film also marks the start of ¡Viva!’s esperpento themed strand ‘Serious Fun’, inspired by the Spanish and Latin American cultural tradition which uses satire, the grotesque and dark humour to criticise contemporary society. Alongside the films, cinemagoers will be able to contextualise the work with a One Hour Intro led by Nuria López de la Oliva and Prof. Andy Willis, University of Salford & HOME’s Visiting Curator: Film.
In keeping with HOME’s year-long initiative Celebrating Women in Global Cinema there is a programme-wide focus on female talent. Indeed, HOME point out that 19 of the films in the line-up foreground female creative talent in the roles of director, writer, producer or star. Highlights include a preview screening of director Icíar Bollaín’s Yuli, the rags-to-riches story of Cuban ballet superstar Carlos Acosta written by Paul Laverty (I, Daniel Blake); Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada’s Caribbean coming-of-ager Miriam miente (Miriam Lies); and El Silencio de otros (The Silence of Others), winner of Best Documentary at the Goyas and directed by Emmy award-winning duo Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar.
The retrospective programming is always worth digging into at any ¡Viva!, as the selection team using the opportunity to excavate some real rarities. This year there’s a dedication to Spanish auteur Bigas Luna featuring his Iberian trilogy, curated by Prof. Santiago Fouz Hernández, University of Durham, and Betty Bigas, multidisciplinary artist and daughter of the filmmaker. Other highlights from the archives include Álex de la Iglesia’s 1995 horror comedy El Día de la bestia (The Day of the Beast) and Luis García Berlanga’s Plácido, a dark skewering of ‘respectable society’, originally released in 1961.
Further screenings to watch out for include Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s gorgeous Columbian drug epic, Pájaros de Verano (Birds of Passage) — follow-up to the directors’ Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent. Also of note is a focus on Contemporary Argentine Cinema featuring a One Hour Intro and a trio of new titles, including a preview of Benjamín Naishtat’s stylish thriller Rojo which took Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Actor awards at San Sebastian 2018; and Luis Ortega’s Martin Scorsese-flavoured crime drama El Ángel (The Angel), based on the true story of the longest serving prisoner in Argentine history.