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9th April 2024

Preview: 30th ¡Viva! Festival highlights Spanish culture at HOME Cinema

Delve into the variety of Spanish-language cinema with HOME’s annual ¡Viva! film festival
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Preview: 30th ¡Viva! Festival highlights Spanish culture at HOME Cinema
Credit: Los Buenos Modales poster @ Warner Bros.

HOME cinema’s annual carnival of Spanish-language cinema and culture, ¡Viva! Festival, returns for its landmark 30th edition. 

The programme this year, some of which is straight from the European festival circuit (including many from Spain’s own San Sebastián Film Festival), features over 16 UK premieres whilst over half of its features are also made by female filmmakers. At the heart of ¡Viva! is a desire to show all sides of Spanish-language culture. Whether this be the range of countries represented in the films or the subject matter, the selection is a diverse array where no two days of the festival are the same. For example, you can watch the Spanish box office hit comedy Mari(dos) (Co-Husbands) on the same day as the Argentinian drama El viento que arrasa (A Ravaging Wind)

The festival does not just feature new films though, there are also dance classes and opportunities to practice your language skills with the help of Manchester’s branch of the Instituto Cervantes – themselves being a cultural institution that promote Spanish culture and have worked closely with the festival over many years. Alongside these wider opportunities to immerse yourself in all different areas of Spanish-speaking cultures, there are also archive films which provide the programme with a great range. Here, much like with the new release offerings, the programme balances between more well-known titles and uncovering previously unforeseen corners of world cinema. 

The opportunity to see Victor Eríce’s 1973 film The Spirit of the Beehive on the big screen is certainly one not to overlook, it’s place within the film canon may be fairly secure (it placed no.85 on the recent Greatest Films of All Time poll by Sight & Sound) but it is nevertheless still underappreciated outside of the ‘film bubble’. However, the most interesting archive offer is a two-film retrospective of the work of feminist Argentinian filmmaker María Luisa Bemberg – someone myself and, most likely, most others are unfamiliar with. This part of the programme is emblematic of how ¡Viva! consistently strives to defy expectations and present contextualised work by accompanying screenings with intros or creator interviews. 

Amongst these guest appearances at the festival may not be as many immediately recognisable names as some past years but nevertheless, the programme still offers a unique opportunity to engage with this kind of cinema and its creatives. It is, I think, the only festival of its kind in all of the UK. This means that the opportunity to see a Q&A with writer-director Miquel Romans of the film Un Cel de plom (Ashes in the Sky) or even simply the ability to see the film at all, in a cinema landscape where festivals like these often are often the only distribution for smaller international titles, is a very rare thing.

In its 30th edition, ¡Viva! Festival continues to build on its legacy of looking beyond the obvious and presents a fascinating, multifaceted programme of Spanish-language films. It will run at HOME cinema (and CULTPLEX for one special screening) from Friday April 5 – Thursday April 25. 

Daniel Collins

Daniel Collins

Head film editor and writer for The Mancunion.

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