It is an exciting moment for Catalan film, with enterprising directors using the best talent and stunning Catalan countryside to create some real treats. Have a look at 5 recent films that show off the best Catalan drama.
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With more than a hint of Guillermo Del Toro films like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, thistells a spooky story with real world trappings. When a man is injured in a car crash, he must unravel the mystery of his parentage in order to save his life. His investigations lead him to the mystery of a Franco-era hospital where special children incapable of feeling pain were kept, and horribly experimented on. The film is cleverly split into Spanish – for scenes set in the dictatorship past, and Catalan – for the present, and the production design is gorgeous. However, the story is genuinely unnerving at times and perhaps not for the faint of heart!
This Oscar-shortlisted Catalan drama set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil war received international critical attention, and for good reason. Pa Negre (Black Bread) tells the story of a young boy in a remote mountain village (the real-life, stunning Puig de la Balma) who must deal with the harsh realities of post-war life and his family’s possible involvement in a local conspiracy. Incredibly well-acted and gorgeously shot, the film really does show off the best of Catalan cinema.
El Virus de la Por
Veteran Catalan filmmaker Ventura Pons scored a critical hit earlier this year with this suspenseful drama about a popular Barcelona swimming instructor who is accused of inappropriate conduct with one of his pupils. The film has been compared favorably to the Danish drama The Hunt and treats the subject matter with careful sensitivity. The tense structure – the whole film takes place in a day, inside the swimming pool – and ambiguous stance the film takes towards the innocence of the teacher, makes for a fascinating, intelligent watch.
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This Catalan/English fantasy drama premiered at the Sitges Film Festival in 2012, and since then has been building a cult reputation in Catalan film. The debut feature of writer/director Marçal Forès, the film riffs heavily on Donnie Darko and tells the story of a Catalan teen in a remote town struggling with his identity. The film boasts a dreamy vibe and stunning Catalan landscapes such as the amazing lake bridge of Pantà de la Llosa del Cavall. It also has a fantastic punk soundtrack, a scene-stealing talking teddy bear called Deerhoof and Sherlock ‘s Martin Freeman in a cameo as a sympathetic English teacher.
La Propera Pell
The most recent entry on this list, this Swiss-Spanish co-production tells the story of a Pyrenees family whose strained relationships become even more fractured when their missing son apparently returns home. Starring Emma Suárez (from Almodóvar’s latest film, Julieta), the film has been receiving rave reviews and compared to the acclaimed docu-drama The Impostor. The dramatic thriller will be released in Spanish cinemas on October 21st, 2016.