Image courtesy of CCCB
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (2011), showing on Thursday 16th
According to the eponymous hit song from Grease, summer nights are a time for love matches to be made following days spent innocently flirting by drinking lemonade, staying out till 10 o’clock and splashing around. But the good people at the CCCB who organise the annual August Gandules film-fest would certainly disagree with such a concept. For starters, their screenings start at 10 o’clock, so not only do you need to be out until then, but you really need to try and stay awake for another two hours or so. Furthermore, this is unlike ‘ordinary’ open-air film festivals, where the focus is generally on enjoying watching a movie in the warm summer air perhaps with a fizzy beverage or two, lemonade or otherwise. No, the Gandules people want you to think. They want to expose you to the sort of films you’re unlikely to see in the Verdi on a wet Tuesday evening in November, let alone during the summer, when the nearest most of us get to ‘culture’ is with some comfortingly silly beach reading or by heading to an air-conditioned cinema to see this year’s Hollywood blockbuster. And they really want you to read subtitles.
As they point out in their on-line blurb, all nine of the films picked by local experts to be shown at this year’s event have won both audience and critical acclaim, but for various reasons have not been able to capture a commercial release, which is where the CCCB comes in—to right such wrongs. Taking a preliminary look at the line-up, it doesn’t seem entirely surprising that some of these films have struggled to get a look-in when up against vampires, 3D extravaganzas and sequels of sequels. Instead, you have: a young Bulgarian man hitchhiking his way to a funeral who is joined by a compulsive liar for the journey (Avé, Thursday 23rd); a Japanese director discovering his brother has been executed by a gang for not paying his debts, who then gives himself up to be the punchbag of the same gang to raise cash (Cut, Wednesday 22nd); and a documentary exploring ‘pandrogynism’, where an artist and his wife undergo plastic surgery to make them look like each other (The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, Thursday 16th).
But of course, that is what makes Gandules so endearing to its fans, of which there are presumably many as this is the 10th year that the festival is taking place. As thanks for all that support, organisers let the public vote on-line last month for the film they wanted to see close the festival out of a selection taken from the past decade of screenings—the winner was Luis Buñuel’s El angel exterminador (The Exterminating Angel, 1962), which sees an upper-class dinner party come over all Lord of the Flies, as the guests find themselves trapped together. It’s all a very long way from Rydell High. -HP
WHAT TO WATCH? Our film expert Jonathan Bennett gives us the lowdown on two films featured in this year’s Gandules programme.
August is a time for sex, sweating and moving slowly. You’ll probably be doing plenty of at least some of those, but to see other people doing the same kind of thing, albeit in a less urban environment, Verano by Chilean film-maker José Luis Torres Leiva is the one to go for. Screening at last year’s Venice Film Festival and shot in grainy, saturated colours, it feels a little like a series of misplaced memories of what you did last summer—or would have done if you lived in the Chilean countryside.
On the other hand, if the thought of yet more of those things (or not enough of some of them) brings you out in shivers, a better option to escape the August blues might be Naoko Ogigami’s Rent-a-Cat, which is more or less as self-explanatory as Snakes on a Plane, though far more upbeat: a young Japanese woman picks up stray cats and rents them out to lonely people. Sweet and sentimental, it’s a light, quirky film, perfect for August. And, as it’s in the open air, you might be able to take your own cat. Or perhaps lure one of the Raval strays along.
Rent-a-Cat: Wednesday 8th
Verano: Tuesday 21st
Gandules’12. Cine al fresco. CCCB. August 7th to 24th, 10pm. Free entry. www.cccb.org