A Rich Programme

in 49th Valladolid International Film Festival

by Aruna Vasudev

The Valladolid Festival has no pretentions, makes no easy concessions, does not cater to glamour or popularity. Sober and elegant like its city, this festival concentrates on the films themselves and expects those who come to it to do the same. The tone is set by its long-time director, Fernando Lara who has put this small, medieval, utterly charming city on the film map with its festival which will celebrate its 50th edition in 2005.

The official competition had 17 films from South America, Asia, the United States and Europe. Only Africa was missing. Morocco, however, was present in a German short film Rain is Falling by Holder Ernst about a little girl who does everything possible to prevent raindrops falling from a leaking roof, on to her sick mother. It shared the top award with the Hungarian Randevu. Very well received were the Best Actor award to Argentinian Ricardo Darin in the opening film Luna de Avellaneda by Juan Jose Campanella, Argentina/Spain, and Best Actress to the marvellous Pilar Bardem (who happens to be the mother of Javier Bardem) in the multi-layered, moving and intelligent Maria Querida by Jose Luis Garcia Sanchez, the only Spanish film in competition. Korea´s Kim Ki-Duk, fresh from his triumph at Venice, walked off with the Golden Spike for Bin-Jip in a unanimous decision by the jury.

The Fipresci jury was constrained to some extent because four of the seventeen films had already won this award in other festivals – including Bin-Jip at Venice. The final choice was Wong Kar Wai´s 2046 but it was not a unanimous decision. The pity is that when established directors are in competition with relatively unknown ones whose work may be a little less assured but very well worth pointing out, the known names cannot be ignored. Maria Querida as much as the Swiss-Belgian production All Winter Without a Fire by Greg Zglinski found many supporters but finally it was 2046 which carried the day. Christopher Doyle who is considered Wong Kar-Wai´s alter ego, won the Best Cinematography award so for Wong Kar Wai it was a well deserved recognition since 2046 has not figured in any awards lists after its world premiere at Cannes. Nor has Antonioni´s The Look of Michelangelo despite the standing ovation it received at Cannes. Surprisingly, it was indeed in competition at Valladolid and Fipresci paid homage to the master by giving it a Special award.

Around three hundred and fifty films played at the festival in a bewildering variety of sections: Meeting Point, Tiempo di Historia, Country Focus on Switzerland, homage to Amos Gitai and to the Spanish director Imanol Uribe, Chinese Cinema: the 6th Generation, Spanish Cinema which included Cachorro (Bear Club) which had premiered in Berlin, and Vicente Aranda´s version of Carmen based on Prosper Merimee´s book. It had no flamenco, no music from the opera but the story of an overriding passion that has of necessity to end in tragedy. Documentaries had their own place in all the sections with one devoted to Docs in Europe. Film schools too, were not ignored with two in focus this year – VGIK in Moscow and ECAM in Spain.

It was Ken Loach who won the audience award with his Ae Fond Kiss which also premiered in Cannes and has been on a round of festivals ever since. A large list of awards presented by different juries bore testimony to a rich programme at this 49th edition of Valladolid´s Semana Internacional de Cine.

Aruna Vasudev