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The Kings Speech at Sala Montjuïc
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Gentleman Prefer Blondes at Sala Montjuïc
Barcelona is home to a growing number of outdoor summer film events, but arguably the leader of the pack is Sala Montjuïc, which has been going for 10 years. With an eclectic mix of new and classic movies shown in their original language, preceded by short works from local film students and live music, plus a splendid setting just right for a picnic with friends and enjoying special views of the city before the on-screen action begins, it’s no wonder that some 250,000 people have headed up to Montjuïc Castle on many a balmy evening in the past decade.
To get a behind-the-scenes look at the festival, we put a few questions to directors Mireia Manen and Nathalie Modigliani.
When Sala Montjuïc started, did you expect it to be such a success? No, definitely not. At the start, we wanted Sala Montjuïc to be a big, popular event, similar to the festival ‘Cinema en plein air’ in Paris, which was our initial reference point, but we didn’t expect so much support on the first day, when more than 2,000 people came! We had faith in the project and, in fact, we looked for a space that could accommodate a lot of people, but everyone was telling us that Barcelona isn’t Paris and that it would be complicated to get people to go up Montjuïc.
Why did you chose Montjuïc Castle as the location? We were looking for the ideal space for the festival for almost two years, it wasn’t easy at all. We were searching for a place with grass to make it comfortable for the public, a good picnic spot, etc. and that was big enough and without trees or plants that would impede people’s view. And that had a certain charm. All this in Barcelona is not easy to find. Then someone suggested we get in touch with the team that at the time was in charge of managing Montjuïc Park, as they were keen to energise the space and encourage its cultural growth. In such projects there are always moments in which different interests come together and create an opportunity. You have to see it and take advantage of it, and when we discovered the Fossat de Santa Eulàlia at the Castle of Montjuïc, we were sure. It was actually even better than what we had imagined.
The Sala Montjuïc programme is always a mix of new and classic films. What is the selection process for the films that are shown each year? We look for a balance of genres, origins and direction styles. A combination of famous titles and other, more risky options. But we try to make sure that they all have their own quality. We spend the year watching films; we go to the cinema like everybody else, and we take notes about the ones that fit our criteria. Later, we do a first internal brainstorming in MODiband, and later another one with the programming director of the Verdi Cinemas. Afterwards come the filters of copy availability in the 35mm format, and rights, both of which limit us a lot. We also look for copies of the films in good condition to guarantee a high projection quality on a huge screen.
Do you have any important plans for the future of Sala Montjuïc? To keep going, keep our loyal public and get the interest of more young people. To continue being a fresh way to discover a different side of cinema or to be able to enjoy film classics in magical surroundings. We will have to make the change to digital projection and this will be a new challenge, as the space isn’t set up like a conventional cinema. But we also hope that the change in system will mean greater access to films that up to now we haven’t been able to show. We are also planning greater connection with other organisations and collectives, with the aim of enriching both the programme and the accompanying activities that go with the screenings, so that everything on offer is improved and encourages greater participation. And perhaps in the future we will also create a Sala B…
Castell de Montjuïc. June 29th to August 8th. Films shown on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. €5 on the door; ticket office opens at 8.30pm on screening days. €5.50 in advance from event web (see below) and www.atrapalo.com. Doors open: 8.30pm; live music starts: 8.45pm; screenings begin: 10pm. Deckchair rental: €3. Free car parking is available in the area, and special buses run from Plaça Espanya between 8.30 and 9.30pm, and back down once the film has ended. www.salamontjuic.org