Programme announced for 30th anniversary of Spanish & Latin American film festival ‘¡VIVA!’

The full programme has been announced for the 30th anniversary edition of ¡Viva!, the UK’s only festival dedicated to the promotion of Spanish and Latin American cinema, which runs at HOME in Manchester from Friday 5 to Thursday 25 April 2024.

¡Viva! is marking this milestone with an exciting programme of cinema that comes from across the Spanish-speaking world and includes UK premieres, archive classics, feature films, shorts, Q&As and wraparound events.

27 features and 10 short films make up the line-up which will treat audiences to warm-hearted comedies, moving dramas and intriguing documentaries. Also greatly anticipated are those pieces that have been selected from the archive, featuring the work of maestros Víctor Erice and Juan Antonio Bardem, Argentine feminist María Luisa Bemberg and ¡Viva! favourite Álex de la Iglesia. Arriving from Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Chile, 16 of the screenings are UK premieres and 14 of the features are directed by women.

¡Viva! 2024 is produced by HOME with the support of the Embassy of Spain in London, Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) and the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery.

Secaderos (15) (Tobacco Barns) is opening the festival with its UK premiere on Fri 5 Apr and it will be a truly magical cinematic experience. Set in the tobacco plantations of rural Granada this coming of age story, directed by Rocío Mesa, parallels the lives of two girls; one who yearns to escape and move to the city, the other who is visiting and is drawn to the beauty of the countryside. After the screening the evening will continue with music from DJ Atalaya in HOME’s bar. Tickets for the opening night are full £15.75 / concs £13.75.

The festival hits its first comedy note on Sat 6 Apr with La Práctica (12A) (The Practice) in which an Argentinian yoga instructor living in Chile finds himself experiencing a mid-life crisis that reveals the absurdities of life. The laughs continue in the UK premiere of director David Marqués’ En temporada baja (12A) (Low Season). Juggling all that life throws at them, this laugh-out-loud comedy centres on four characters who find themselves on a campsite working out the challenges of childcare whilst discovering camaraderie and burgeoning friendships.

Sun 7 Apr sees a tribute to Spanish maestro Juan Antonio Bardem (1922-2002). Cómicos (12A) (Comedians) is a very personal story that takes audiences into the world of a travelling theatre troupe, one that is reminiscent of Bardem’s own experiences as the son of theatre actors. The director even makes a brief appearance as a stagehand in this magnificent portrait of life within a theatre company. Comically surreal, El Fantástico caso del Golem (15) (The Fantastic Golem Affairs) is as thrilling as its name suggests. The fourth film from Spanish duo Fernando Martínez and Juan González abounds with unique and bizarre aesthetics. The scene for this is set when the protagonist witnesses his best friend falling from a building only for his body to smash into ceramic fragments. Join the cinematic ride and then explore this in the Q&A with Fernando Martínez that follows the UK premiere screening on Tue 9 Apr.

Mari(dos) (15) (Co-Husbands) is a raucously funny, ‘odd couple’ film by director Lucía Alemany, which has its UK premiere on Fri 12 Apr. With hilarious consequences, two husbands go to battle over the woman they both believe to be their wife, but who can’t yet reveal the truth as she’s in a coma. Another comedy double act comes in the form of two feuding sisters in Los Buenos modales (PG) (Good Manners). After decades of not speaking over a family secret they are thrown together unexpectedly at the party of one of the grandchildren. Expect much joy and wit in this film directed by Marta Díaz de Lope Díaz which will have its UK premiere on Thu 11 Apr. On Sat 13 Apr you can watch the film as part of a Language Lab run by the Instituto Cervantes Manchester, giving the chance for participants to practise their conversational Spanish. Tickets for the Language Lab (including the film) are full £9.95 / concs £7.95.

Festival regulars will be delighted by the return of ¡Viva! favourite Álex de la Iglesia. The director’s comedy-horror classic from 1995 El Día de la bestia (18)(The Day of the Beast) will be shown in a special screening on Thu 11 Apr at CULTPLEX, located just across town alongside GRUB at the Red Bank Project. Faced with the Apocalypse, and a belief that the Antichrist will be born in Madrid on Christmas Day, Father Angel Berriartúa’s quest begins.

Empieza el baile (15) (Let the Dance Begin) is a road movie that muses on life, death and love in this UK premiere on Sun 7 Apr by director Marina Seresesky. Bringing comedy, nostalgia and tango there is lots to rejoice in this film which sees a welcome return to the festival for Marina who along with producer Álvaro Lavín will be taking part in a Q&A. Empieza el baile will close the festival (Thu 25 Apr) with a tango class taking place in HOME’s bar ahead of the screening. Continuing the theme of journeys, director Paula Hernández describes El Viento que arrasa (PG) (A Ravaging Wind) as a “road movie on the brink of a storm”. The storm takes place deep in the interior borderland of Argentina when an evangelical pastor travelling with his 18-year-old daughter Leni breaks down and meets a car mechanic and his son. Based on a novel, the film’s screening at ¡Viva! on Fri 12 Apr will be its UK premiere.

Taking its name from the remote Colombian town it is set in, La Suprema (12A) tells the story of Laureana, an Afro-Colombian teenager. She dreams of boxing and her reality is a home town without electricity, so when she finds out her uncle will box for the world title she will do everything possible to watch the fight on TV. It will first screen on Mon 8 Apr and on Wed 24 Apr will follow by a Q&A with writer-director Felipe Holguín Caro.

A gripping historical drama enjoys its UK premiere on Wed 10 AprUn Cel de plom (15) (Ashes in the Sky)shares the remarkable life of resistance fighter Neus Català (1915-2019) – Catalan, feminist and anti-fascist – who lived to 103, having been a prisoner of the Nazis. Made to work in a munitions factory she continued her resistance covertly by sabotaging the weapons. Heroico (18) (Heroic) is based on the real narratives of those serving in the Mexican army. Against a backdrop of systemic violence, 18-year-old Luis enters the army in search of a better life and meets an institutionally violent system. The film will make its UK premiere at the festival on Tue 9 Apr.

In contrast Thu 11 Apr sees the UK premiere of a biopic about Colombian musician Joe Arroyo (1955-2011). Rebelión (15)(Rebellion) steps into a psychedelic journey into the darkest corners of a creative genius. Those joining for the screening on Fri 19 Apr will also be able to enjoy a short salsa performance and class taking place in HOME bar prior to the screening. Another true story comes in the form of La Singla (U), which tells the extraordinary tragedy of Antoñita “La Singla”, a deaf flamenco dancer who disappeared at the peak of her career. The screening on Sat 13 Apr will be followed by a flamenco performance in the bar at HOME, with participation encouraged!

In addition to trying out your dance moves, on Sat 20 Apr you can join the team from Instituto Cervantes for Café Cervantes to test out your language skills. This will be an informal session for lovers of Spanish-speaking film, who can relax with a drink and join in the chat to practise their Spanish. This free but ticketed event is recommended for those that have intermediate level Spanish or above.

From the archive comes a special screening on Sun 14 Apr of El Espíritu de la colmena (PG) (The Spirit of the Beehive). Director Víctor Erice’s directorial debut feature is regarded as a masterpiece of Spanish cinema. Premiering in 1973 this ground-breaking film symbolically portrays life in Spain under Franco’s rule and the events of the Spanish Civil War, with a story that centres around a girl fascinated by the 1931 American horror film Frankenstein. 50 years later and the director’s swansong Close Your Eyes has just been released, making this a powerful moment of reflection.

Thanks to a project led by Invisible Women there will be screenings of two films by director María Luisa Bemberg that are newly restored. Miss Mary (15) takes place on Sat 20 Apr and Camila (15) on Sun 21 Apr. Invisible Women seeks out and champions the work of women filmmakers, such as Bemberg, whose career spanning from 1971 to the early 1990s explored distinctive feminist themes. In Miss Mary (1986) Julie Christie takes on the title role as a governess in Argentina within a rigid, male-dominated society during the rule of Juan Domingo Perón. Whilst Camila (1984) is based on the true story of Camila O’Gorman, a young upper-class woman from Buenos Aires who fell in love with a Jesuit priest. Bemberg succeeded in making this film where many others failed.

On Tue 16 Apr the evening is dedicated to a programme of five short films showcasing some of the best creative output from new Catalan filmmakers. CinemaAttic: Contemporary Shorts from Spain (12A) takes audiences on a cinematic journey that explores Gothic sci-fi, ghostly encounters, themes of identity and family ties. The screening is introduced by Rafael Cueto, Director of CinemaAttic.

Tickets for ¡Viva! 2024 will go on general sale on Fri 1 Mar. Screening tickets are priced OFF PEAK (before 17:00 Mon-Fri, before 15:00 Sat & Sun): full £7.95 / concs £5.95. PEAK (after 17:00 Mon-Fri, after 15:00 Sat & Sun) full £9.95 / concs £7.95.

Most of the films will be screened on more than one occasion, with a total of 55 screenings taking place across the festival. For the full ¡Viva! 2024 programme and to book tickets visit homemcr.org/event/viva2024

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