Now in its 13th year, the ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival returns to Cornerhouse, Manchester, with ten action-packed days and nights of Hispanic film between 15 and 25 March. Supported by the Instituto Cervantes Manchester, ¡Viva! is the biggest festival of its kind in the UK, featuring the best of Spanish and Latin American cinema. This year’s edition will be showcasing up to 100 Hispanic films, including new features, shorts, documentaries and its highly popular themed section.
Some of this year’s highlights include Nacido y Criado (Born and Bred) by Pablo Trapero, El Violin by Francisco Vargas, La Silla (The Chair) by Julio D. Wallovits and Salvador by Manuel Huerga. ¡Viva! will also be collaborating with Canana Films (set up by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna) to present a selection of Mexican documentaries from their travelling festival Ambulante. Taking a look at the dark side, the festival celebrates its 13th year with a Horror sidebar that will encompass both brand new and old films from Spain and Latin America. The festival will also screen Cronica de Una Fuga (Buenos Aires 1977) by Adrian Caetano, this year’s Oscar entry for Argentina.
For 10 days Cornerhouse becomes the centre of Hispanic life in Manchester, a place where audiences can meet filmmakers and actors participating in panel discussions and Q & A’s. The festival will also launch the first books in English about leading Spanish directors Alex de la Iglesia and Julio Medem in collaboration with Manchester University Press. Both directors have previously visited the festival (Alex in 2001 for La Comunidad and Julio in 1999 for Lovers of the Arctic Circle; both of which were opening films).
As in previous years the tremendously successful and extensive educational programme uses the medium of cinema to engage students to learn Spanish in an innovative way. At a time when foreign language learning in schools is on the decline, ¡Viva! beat’s the trend, presenting special screenings for schools and universities, often with filmmakers and actors in attendance and is accompanied by specially produced education packs that are freely available on the internet both during and after the festival.
Over the years ¡Viva! has increased the availability of Spanish language films as well as raising the profile of now highly recognised Hispanic talents. Presenting films such Princesas (Princesses) by Fernando Leon de Aranoa (last year’s opening night film) and Crimen Ferpecto (Ferpect Crime) by Alex de la Iglesia, both of which went on to win prestigious Goya Awards. ¡Viva! also premiered Bombón El Perro by Carlos Sorin which in 2005 went on to become a surprise summer hit at the UK box office. The festival also played a key role in the UK distribution of Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) by Alejandro Amenabar later re-made as Vanilla Sky starring Penelope Cruz.
Film fans unable to make it to Manchester can see this year’s highlights around the UK and in Dublin with the ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival Tour. Supported by the Spanish Embassy and the Independent Cinema Office, the tour brings to the public Spanish and Latin American films that would otherwise be unavailable in this country.