The 2024 HSBC Spanish Film Festival announces full program and national locations

It’s fiesta time as the 2024 HSBC Spanish Film Festival, presented by Palace, prepares to set screens alight with a superb selection of the finest new and classic films from Spain and Latin America. The festival’s largest line up to date opens nationally will take place nationally from 11th June to 17th July (dates vary for each location) across Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, Ballina and Byron Bay.

Based on a popular novel and directed by multi award-winning director Lone Scherfig, The Movie Teller (La Contadora de Películas) is this year’s star-studded Opening Night selection. A moving tribute to cinema and the magical power of storytelling, the film follows a young woman’s coming-of-age in a Chilean mining town and stars Bérénice Bejo, Antonio de la Torre, Daniel Brühl and brilliant newcomer Alondra Valenzuela.

The 2024 Special Presentation brings together female led films exploring the themes of ‘Liberation, Sexuality and Empowerment’. In the comedic yet sensual drama Mamacruz, Kiti Mánver delivers a compelling central performance as a religiously devout woman in late middle age who rediscovers the transformative power of her own sensuality. Channelling the voices of three women over 65 into one, Memories of a Burning Body (Memorias de un cuerpo que arde) is a heartfelt drama exploring pleasure and desire. The sixth feature from talented director Juana Macías, The Girls at the Station (Las chicas de la estación), is a powerful drama inspired by real events starring three outstanding newcomers as friends entering adulthood who face incredible obstacles. And in dark comedy thriller Something Is About To Happen (Que nadie duerma), Malena Alterio, who was awarded a Goya for her performance, plays a woman whose life takes a definitive turn when she loses her job.

Acclaimed filmmaker Isabel Coixet’s new film, Un Amor, is a striking drama starring Laia Costa and Hovik Keuchkerian as new neighbours in a Spanish rural village who become entangled in a web of passion. Vera and the Pleasure of Others (Vera y el placer de los otros), a comedic and erotic tale about growing up, follows 17-year-old Vera, as she divides her days between volleyball, school, and a secret hobby: listening to other people’s pleasure.

The Festival Centrepiece is The Teacher Who Promised the Sea (El Maestro que Prometió el Mar), winner of the Audience award at the 2024 Gaudí Awards. The acclaimed drama, starring Enric Auquer and Laia Costa, recounts the moving true story of Antoni Benaiges, a teacher who brought progressive teaching methods to a small village in 1930s Burgos.

Closing the festival is The Holy Mountain (La montaña sagrad), which recently marked its 50th Anniversary and was famously co-funded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surreal and visually stunning avant-garde odyssey has been fully restored in lavish 4K presenting a mesmerising journey through a series of bizarre and symbolic experiences, exploring themes of spirituality, enlightenment, and the quest for transcendence.

The famous Hitchcockian psychological thriller Spellbound, which follows a psychiatrist (Ingrid Bergman) who helps an amnesiac (Gregory Peck) uncover his true identity and features a not-to-be-missed-surreal dream sequence by Salvador Dalí, is screening as part of the Festival’s Dali showcase, celebrating 120 years since his birth.  The documentary Salvador Dalí: In Search of Immortality is an intimate and revelatory examination of the one-of-a-kind genius who managed to live a life that is a work of art unto itself.  And the two short films, Un Chien Andalou & L’Age d’Or, will be screened together as one session. A 1929 avant-garde short film by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, Un Chien Andalou is a dreamlike, surrealistic
exploration of the subconscious, whilst L’Age d’Or is a surrealist tale of a man and a woman who are passionately in love, but their attempts to consummate it are thwarted by their families, the Church, and bourgeois society.

The festival is also delighted to announce a Spotlight on Spanish director Isabel Coixet with a selection of the acclaimed director’s work presented alongside her newest release Un Amor. Based on the novel “The Dying Animal” by Philip Roth and starring Ben Kingsley and Penélope Cruz, Elegy explores the themes of love, desire and aging as it follows a distinguished professor who becomes romantically involved with one of his students.  Those Who Love (A los que aman), a subversive period piece about love, guilt, and redemption, features a luminous leading performance from Monica Bellucci as a passionate teacher entangled in a tumultuous affair. And Yesterday Never Ends (Ayer no termina nunca) is an absorbing
character study from Coixet about a couple who reunite after five years apart, with one turning their history into a novel.

And lovers of Spanish comedies will be thrilled with this year’s amusing selection. A box office hit in Spain, and the third installment in the highly successful Spanish Affair movie franchise, A Moroccan Affair (Ocho apellidos marroquís) sees the Díaz-Aguirre family’s lives flipped upside down with a trip to Morocco. In Idol Affair (Buscando a Coque) Alexandra Jiménez and Hugo Silva star as a couple who must deal with an unexpected scenario involving the other’s idol. One Hell of a Holiday (¡Vaya vacaciones!) features an all-star ensemble cast and pays homage to all grandparents, as fun adventures await when two are left looking after their grandchildren yet again; and Just One Small Favour (El favor) sees the adult children of a wealthy family facing the skeletons in their closets when their late nanny leaves a series of letters for them.

All these fine Spanish cinema selections and more will be playing across the following major Australian locations, with tickets and session times available at the official site here.

Canberra 11 June – 10 July: Palace Electric Cinema
Adelaide 12 June – 10 July: Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas
Brisbane 13 June – 10 July: Palace James Street and Palace Barracks
Perth 13 June – 10 July: Palace Raine Square Cinemas, Luna Leederville and Luna on SX
Melbourne 14 June – 10 July: The Astor Theatre, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Penny Lane, Palace Westgarth, The Kino, Palace Balwyn and Pentridge Cinema
Sydney 19 June – 17 July: Palace Norton Street, Palace Moore Park, Palace Central and Chauvel Cinema

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.