54th Gijón International Film Festival
Spain, November 19 - November 26 2016
The last edition of the Gijón International Film Festival will be possibly remembered as the last of one of its current era. It is true that the sunny days have been unusual in a region (Asturias) with lots of rain, and the last day of the festival has been marked by the death of Fidel Castro. But the real reason for the change of direction was announced before the festival: there will be a process to choose a new director, after the last five years headed by Nacho Carballo, who took over from José Luis Cienfuegos. But there is another reason to be worried about, since the cinema that harbours the films in the centre of Gijón closed last year and this was already the second time the festival had been given permission to use it. Will there be a third time? Will the cinema be reopened again?
With a lower budget than the previous year, the organisation has known how to maintain the quality regarding authorial films. The Official Section was composed by 15 productions, where some well-known names mixed with more discrete ones. They screened the most recent films by Andrei Konchalovsky (Paradise, Rai), Marco Bellochio (Sweet Dreams, Fai bei sogni), Brillante Mendoza (Ma’Rosa) and Danis Tanovic (Death in Sarajevo, Smrt u Sarajevu) by the most famous directors.
But other less flashy names from France, Iran, Spain, Uruguay, USA, Czech Republic, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria were also an attraction. One of them was the combative Glory (Slava), by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, the winner of the FIPRESCI prize, coinciding with the Official Jury decision.
The parallel sections keep offering rich and varied productions from the year. For animated films we have Animaficx, the sessions made specially for children are in Enfants Terribles, while some prominent productions of the year could be found in Gran Angular, all of them with unforgettable films that continue their tour for the main festivals. It’s the case of Toni Erdmann, Aquarius, My Life as a Courgette (Ma vie de Courgette) or The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rouge).
The Honorary Award was given to the Spanish TV program Días de Cine, due to its unstoppable efforts in offering information about the cinematographic present for 25 years. And there were two retrospectives. The first one allowed us to see all the films together by Matteo Garrone. The second one, within the independent spirit of the Gijón Festival, was an homage to the young Spanish filmmaker Pablo Hernando, who is capable of making films with no budget at all. (Edited by Amber Wilkinson)