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Thursday, September 18, 2014

We’ve already discussed here on several occasions the value of using film in the classroom. A movie screen is like an open window that invites viewers to dive into new worlds, places where students can observe and appreciate cultures of their target language.

The Spanish Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences has come up with a selection of films to send to the 2015 Oscars as possible candidates for the “best foreign language film”. The choices of these institutions often don’t completely coincide with popular opinion. Every once in a while however, they hit the nail right on the head.

I mention all this because in my opinion, the 3 movies that made the list capture 3 entirely different cinematic styles. They even seem to complement one another in the sense that among the chosen films, El niño, 10.000 kilómetros, and Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados, practically every type of expectation a film viewer could have during a 2 hour viewing experience is covered.

El Niño

The first of this Spanish trio is a movie that promises quality cinema right off the bat, considering its director, Daniel Monzón, and its headlining actor Luis Tosar. The pair worked wonderfully together in one of the most special movies to come out in recent years: Celda 211, a prison thriller with a script that deserves to be in a frame. In El niño, we get away from jailhouse settings but are tossed into the world of drug dealing between Africa and Spain on the outskirts of La Línea, next to Gibraltar. It’s the type of action movie that’s popular in the US, film noir a la No habrá paz para los malvados, where the thin line that separates heroes and villains is blurred and lies far removed from clear cut worlds of the James Bond type, in which super good-guys must foil super-villains’ evil designs. I think El niño is a good choice.

10.000 Kilómetros

The second title, 10.000 kilómetros, is a sentimental tale of two people forced to maintain a long distance relationship. The internet takes on the role of another character (like it does in a whole series of movies such as Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows, or the fantastic appearance of Twitter in the delicious Chef). 10.000 also proves that a great story doesn’t need big-budget special effects or casts. This is another good pick from Spain’s academy.

The only problem with this second film is that it hasn’t been distributed well; it’s not easy to find a theater showing the movie… I remember how disappointed I felt when Vivir es fácil con los cerrados hadn’t even made it to any theater on the Canary Islands, where I live. Only after its phenomenal success at the Goya awards did it reach the islands. Fortunately, you can find some sites on the internet that allow you to legally watch movies at reasonable prices (about €5).

Vivir es Fácil con los Ojos Cerrados

The third Spanish offering is Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados. We’ve already dedicated an entire post here to this wonderful picture. It’s a tribute to the unsung work of teachers who must rely on their creative imagination to make up for a lack of resources during times of economic and political crisis.

I think and I hope that these 3 inspired representations of Spanish film will work three different angles (thriller, intimate melodrama, and comedy) to capture the attention of the Academy Awards voting panel and bring Spanish film a bit of well-deserved glory.

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