Gijón Film Festival 2015 preview

We take a look at some of the highlights of this year's edition.

by Rebecca Naughten

Gijon Film Festival 2015 poster
Gijon Film Festival 2015 poster
The 53rd edition of the Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijón runs from November 20 to 28 in the city on Spain's north-west coast. An eclectic programme of international cinema in its many forms has been assembled to screen across the nine days, incorporating acclaimed titles alongside hidden gems and local talents.

The festival gives out two career awards. José Sacristán - a revered and much-admired actor of Spanish stage and screen, most recently seen in Magical Girl - will be the recipient of the Nacho Martínez award, which looks to give recognition to significant figures within the Spanish acting community. Sacristán's career spans the dictatorship, Spain's subsequent transition to democracy, and the modern era - he has effectively incarnated, performed and subverted Spain's changing society across more than half a century and is an integral part of both Spanish cinema and how Spain sees itself (through the stories onscreen).

The second award is Mujeres de Cine (Women of Cinema), which aims to promote and make visible the work of women within the film industry. The 2015 award goes to Katrina Bayonas, a renowned talent agent - she discovered Penélope Cruz and continues to represent her and other well-known actresses such as Elena Anaya - and casting director.

Other activities outside of the main programme include a range of concerts and a retrospective screening of Luis Buñuel's Nazarín (1959). The latter is accompanied by a documentary about the film, Following Nazarín (Javier Espada, 2015), as well as an exhibition of Buñuel's photographs of the country that played host to two thirds of his filmography, 'México fotografiado por Luis Buñuel'. Another central event involves director Víctor Erice (Spirit Of The Beehive) leading a 4-day seminar series asking the question "What is Cinema?"

Gijón's 2015 retrospective centres on Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The festival will screen seven features and eight shorts - including his latest films Cemetery of Splendour and short Vapour - with the director in attendance, and he will also lead a masterclass session.

Cemetery Of Splendour
Cemetery Of Splendour
The main competition hosts 16 feature titles, including veteran director Arturo Ripstein's latest film - Bleak Street (La Calle de la Amargura) - which will inaugurate the festival. The other 15 features are: Aferim! (Radu Jude, 2015), The Ardennes (Robin Pront, 2015), Black (Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, 2015), The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller, 2015), I Am A Soldier (Laurent Larivière, 2015), Land Of Mine (Martin Zandvliet, 2015), Masaan (Neeraj Ghayman, 2015), Much Loved (Nabil Ayouch, 2015), Nasty Baby (Sebastián Silva, 2015), Neon Bull (Gabriel Mascaro, 2015), Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo, 2015), Taklub (Brillante Mendoza, 2015), The Thin Yellow Line (Celso García, 2015), Umrika (Prashat Nair, 2015) and Zurich (Sacha Polak, 2015).

The official section also has a shorts competition: Apolo 81 (Oscar Bernacer, 2015), Belladonna (Dubravka Turic, 2015), Copain (Jan y Raf Roosens, 2015), Cretinos (Edu Moyano, 2015), Drama (Tian Guan, 2014), En Alabama, Sí (Pablo Lapastora, 2015), Lobito Bueno, Bruja Hermosa (Ainara Porrón Arratibel, 2015), Madam Black (Ivan Barge, 2015), No Me Quites (Laura Jou, 2015), On Flying Water (Dominique Monfery, 2015), Sali (Ziya Demirel, 2015), Sormeh (Azadeh Ghochagh, 2015), Transit Game (Anna Fahr, 2014), Victor XX (Ian Garrido López, 2015), Volta (Stella Kyriakopoulos, 2014), The Walker (Adán Aliaga, 2015) and Yulya (André Marques, 2015).

The other main categories are as follows:

AnimaFICX - A category encompassing a range of animation styles from The Boy And The Beast (Mamoru Hosada, 2015) and When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2014) to The Magic Mountain (Anca Damian, 2015), Long Way North (Rémi Chayé, 2015), Cafard (Jan Bultheel, 2015), Psiconautas, los niños olvidados (Alberto Vázquez & Pedro Rivero, 2015) and more.

Convergencias - The 2nd edition of a strand where critics highlight films that might not otherwise find a spotlight. The six selected films this year - In the Crosswind (Martti Helde, 2014), The Road (Rana Salem, 2015), Transatlantique (Félix Dufour-Laperrière, 2014), André's Eyes (António Borges Correia, 2015), Krisha (Trey Edward Shults, 2015), and Test (Aleksandr Kott, 2014) - are connected through innovative soundscapes, either creating sound as a narrative element or the expressive use of silence (more than one of the films is dialogue-free).

Dia d'Asturies - Another competitive section for short films, this time focused specifically on filmmakers from the region. The 2015 line-up: Varadero (Benjamín Villaverde, 2015), Donde Caen Las Hojas (Alicia Albares Martínez, 2015), La Romería del Meñique (Juan Díaz-Faes, 2015), Fame (Pablo A. Neila, 2015), Nominados (Moncho Sejas, 2015), Entre Líneas (José Luis Velázquez Menéndez, 2015), Cuenta Con Nosotros (Pablo Vara, 2015), Floating Melon (Roberto Canuto & Xiaoxi Xu, 2015), Alicia (de vuelta) (Daniel Vázquez, 2015), Hijas (Javier & Kiko Prada, 2015), Westbound (Paul Romero, 2015).

DocuFICX - The competitive documentary section consists of The Woods Dreams Are Made Of (Claire Simon, 2015), Brothers (Wojciech Staron, 2015), Dark Horse (Louise Osmond, 2014), The Emperor's New Clothes (Michael Winterbottom, 2015), Iraqi Odyssey (Samir, 2014), and Little Spain (Artur Balder, 2014). Outside of the competition, the section also includes Dead Slow Ahead (2015), the directorial debut of Mauro Herce (director of photography on Arraianos (Eloy Enciso, 2012)) and a recent winner of awards at Locarno and Seville.

Enfant Terribles - A key part of the festival's central emphasis on childhood and youth, the category contains 11 features from around the world made for younger audiences.

FICXLab - A section dedicated to experimental works and video art, tracing both the historical exemplars in the terrain and new, innovative voices. Alongside an installation by British artist Emily Richardson, the programme includes the latest works by the likes of Thom Andersen, Helga Fanderl and Nathaniel Dorsky, as well as presentations of archival films by Robert Nelson, José Val del Omar, and Gusmão and Paiva.

Géneros Mutantes - films that take unconventional approaches to traditional genres (sci-fi, horror, thrillers and drama). This selection includes the recent winner of Best Film at the Sitges Film Festival, The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015).

Gran Angular - Eight films that have triumphed at the biggest festivals, offering an overview of contemporary cinema. The collection consists of: The Embrace Of The Serpent (El Abrazo De La Serpiente) (Ciro Guerra, 2015), Anomalisa (Duke Johnson & Charlie Kaufman, 2015), Hitchcock/Truffaut (Kent Jones, 2015), Ixcanul (Volcano) (Jayro Bustamente, 2015), The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015), La novia (Paula Ortiz, 2015), Paulina (Santiago Mitre, 2015) and Son Of Saul (Lászlo Nemes, 2015).

Gran Angular Asturiano - Five features by filmmakers born in - or linked to - the region: La base del éxito (José Fernández Rivero, 2015), Naranco 93’ (Daniel Cabrero, 2015), Os voy a cantar mi vida, Danny Daniel (Julio de la Fuente, 2015), La pieza que falta (Konchi Rodríguez, 2015) and Sixty Spanish Cigarettes (Mark John Ostrowski, 2015).

Llendes - Six riskier-than-the-norm productions where filmmakers have stretched the limits of the cinematographic. The category includes Impressions of a Drowned Man (Kyros Papavassiliou, 2015), Maestà, the Passion of Christ (Andy Guérif, 2015), El Movimiento (Benjamín Naishtat, 2015), The Sky Trembles And The Earth Is Afraid And The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (Ben Rivers, 2015), Walser (Zbignew Libera, 2015) and the world premiere of Ave y Nada (Cristóbal Arteaga, 2015).

Rellumes - Nine films without prejudices, that turn issues on their head to be seen from a different perspective. As well as titles that screened at Cannes - Mon Roi (Maïwenn, 2015) and Lamb (Yared Zeleke, 2015) - the category also boasts an intriguing quartet of films from Latin America in the form of Abzurdah (Daniela Goggi, 2015), Alias María (José Luis Rugeles, 2015), A Monster of a Thousand Heads (Rodrigo Plá, 2015) and Operación México, Un Pacto de Amor (Leonardo Bechini, 2015).

The full programme can be downloaded here. As part of its outreach activities, the festival screens a range of the films in towns across the region (details can be found here), and more information about tickets and schedules for all of the events can be found on the official website.

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