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Thursday, November 28, 2013 (read 663 times)

Spanish Cinema

by Matthew

Spanish cinema has existed for over 115 years, since the end of the nineteenth century. It now has one of the most considerable influences in the film industry of any non-English-speaking country, in part due to the growing importance of the Spanish language. Spain has produced internationally-recognized actors and directors, such as Javier Bardem, Antonio Banderas and Pedro Almodóvar.

The Spanish film industry

Spanish actors, films, and directors have won thirteen Oscars collectively, and have been nominated countless more times. Spanish film market sold 93.6 million tickets in 2012.

Cinema in Spain began at the end of the nineteenth century, in 1895, when the city of Barcelona held the country’s first film exhibition, albeit showing non-Spanish films. It was two years later, in 1897, that Spain actually produced its own film for the first time. Among the early movies in the history of Spain include Salida de la misa de doce de la IglesiadelPilar de Zaragoza (Exit from the Twelve O’clock Mass of the Church of Pilar de Zaragoza) and Plaza del Puerto en Barcelona (Port Square in Barcelona).

At this time it was still not possible to put sound on films, so silent movies flourished. The silent film industry was first located in and around Barcelona, with the director Florían Rey being one of the most famous, but shifted to Madrid in the late 1920s, from where one of the most famous silent movies comes, An Andalusian Dog, an avant-garde masterpiece with no really discernible plot. Even when sound was finally possible, it took Spain several more years to catch up with its technologically-savvy European competitors, whose films had permeated the Spanish market, thus causing significant damage to the Spanish film-making industry.

The purpose and use of film changed at the start of the Civil War, from an art form to a propaganda tool. Many of Spain’s finest actors fled the country out of fear of Franco, whose regime eventually went on to control the entire country. Under the dictatorship, censorship was a daily occurrence in the Spanish film industry.  There were no guidelines or rules; it was up to the individual censorship official who watched each film to decide whether it was suitable. Films from abroad were either dubbed, in order to change some information, or outright banned.

Censorship was only dropped on Franco’s death in the 1970s, and for the first time in decades non-Castilian language films were permitted to be shown. Many Spanish directors used their new-found freedoms to make films as a means for promoting debate about taboo subjects. Perhaps the most well-known of these directors is Pedro Almodóvar, who began producing films at the same time as the La Movida movement, a time of exploration and liberation throughout Madrid and Spain after the oppression of Franco. Almodóvar explored themes such as abortion, Catholicism, women and their societal role, and sexuality. His films have produced internationally-recognized and award-winning stars such as Penelope Cruz, Antonio Cruz and Javier Bardem.

Spain’s burgeoning film industry has seen a number of film festivals throughout the country. The most famous is the San Sebastian International Film Festival, one of Europe’s most important and among the most prestigious thirteen worldwide due to the high quality of films premiered – it’s held annually in September. The Malaga Film Festival, each April, is one dedicated to Spanish-language cinema, and is largely responsible for the success of many Spanish films. The third most prominent film festival is held in Sitges, Catalonia, which focuses predominantly on horror, fantasy and science fiction genres, and is held every October.

Keywords: spanish cinema,spanish films,films in spanish,spanish film,spanish actors

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