Instituto Cervantes celebrates the centenary of Spanish film legend García Berlanga
Luis García Berlanga (1921-2010) is arguably, together with Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodóvar, one of the big names in the history of Spanish cinema, and this June, to celebrate his birth centenary, Instituto Cervantes de Manila is presenting the online film series “Berlanga Turns 100”. The films will be shown through the Instituto Cervantes channel on the Vimeo platform (vimeo.com/institutocervantes) and will be freely accessible for 48 hours from their start date and time.
García Berlanga was born in Valencia (Spain) on 12 June, 1921. Although his fame never reached Almodóvar’s popularity or Luis Buñuel’s reputation, his work, which is very popular in Spain, carried a satirical wit that has a universal appeal. His long and fruitful cinematographic career, his unmistakable hallmarks as a creator, his corrosive humor and his work, which comprise some of the great classics of 20th century Spanish cinema, make him worthy of a wider audience among film aficionados.
The online film series will feature four titles that have marked García Berlanga’s career. The series kicked off last 5 June, with the screening of Esa pareja feliz (1951). This comedy –heavily influenced by Italian neorealism– is a tender and funny story about a young couple fighting to improve their economic and social status.
The film cycle will continue on 12 June with Calabuch (1956), which tells us the story of a scientist who arrives in a small Valencian town after fleeing the senselessness of the escalating atomic policies of the great powers. The comedy enables Berlanga to create a human portrait of the inhabitants of the small coastal town that gives its name to the film, with an environmentalist perspective, and dreams of a utopia where everyone gets along with each other. Calabuch will be available for free on June 12 and 13 at: https://vimeo.com/548754830
On 19 & 20 June, catch the third movie of the cycle, the comedy Plácido (1961). Reputed as one of García Berlanga’s masterpieces, this sarcastic Christmas story, which was written by Rafael Azcona and García Berlanga, is a strong statement against the hypocrisy of society. It recounts the adventures of a motorbike driver hired in a sordid advertising promotion campaign called “Let a Poor Man Sit at Your Table.” As with other films of the period, life in the provinces is contrasted with the emergence of the new consumer society, at a crossroads that is neither paradoxical nor sad. There is no balance for either of the two lifestyles, and for both sides there is a sense of despair. The movie will be available on 19 & 20 June, and will be accessible through this link.
The film series will close on 26 & 27 June with Berlanga’s black comedy Patrimonio nacional (1981). In the last period of his career, with Spain having already transitioned to a democracy, Berlanga filmed three works to criticize the opportunism of the Spanish upper classes, which had enjoyed the perks of Francoism. Patrimonio nacional is the second instalment of this trilogy. Catch the film on this link.
To join the celebrations of the birth centenary of García Berlanga, the Department of European Languages of the University of the Philippines Diliman is holding a movie review contest in Spanish. The two best reviews of the movies included in the online film series “Berlanga turns 100” will be awarded with a free Spanish course at Instituto Cervantes de Manila, an Instituto Cervantes and a set of 10 books in Spanish. The reviews must be written in Spanish and can be about any of the titles included in the film series.
All the films, presented by Instituto Cervantes in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines-AECID, and UP Diliman, will be in Spanish with English subtitles. Admission is free. For further information on this film series, please check out Instituto Cervantes’ page or the Facebook event page.
For further information about the cultural program of Instituto Cervantes please visit Instituto Cervantes’ website (http://manila.