Champions, Giants & Mothers: Recent Spanish Cinema Lands in Hollywood

by Ersi Danou October 12, 2018
POster for Recent Spansih Cinema Seroes 2018

The 24th edition of the Recent Spanish Cinema Series opened at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, with Javier Fesser’s comedy Champions (Campeones, 2018). The theater was filled with a mostly Spanish-speaking audience and Spanish natives.

The opening Spanish box-office hit is about Marco Montes, an arrogant basketball coach, who is in for some life lesson-learning. Having lost his prestigious job and being obligated to serve the community in order to avoid jail time, his highly professional skillset is suddenly downgraded to the coaching of a group of mentally disabled adults. After many funny trials and tribulations, the hero’s forced encounter with humility proves to be life-changing. The vivacious comedy has all the right ingredients for success in the local Spanish market,  and it is submitted as the country’s Oscar entry.

The Festival’s program is a non-competitive showcase of six fiction films and a documentary. A free panel discussion with the attending filmmakers takes place on Friday, October 12, at 5:30 pm, followed by a free shorts program at 8 pm. A special screening of the animated Tadeo Jones 2: El Secreto Del Rey Midas, for grade school students only, was offered Friday morning.

Fitting cultural expectations and a Goya Award winner, Holy Camp (La Llamada, 2017) is a musical about girls and nuns finding God through their passion for music and singing.

Familial relationships are explored by a good chunk of the programming. The ambitious and multiple Goya winner period piece The Giant (Handia, 2017) centers around the love of two brothers; Sunday’s Illness (La Enfermedad de Domingo, 2018) searches the souls of an estranged mother and her daughter; and the musical comedy The Tribe (La Tribu, 2018) looks into the mysteries of  the mother-son love.


Scenes from films at tghe Recent Spanish Cinea Series 2018

The 2018 vintage: (clockwork from top left): Champions; Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle; Holy Camp; Carmen & Lola; The Giant.

recent spanish cinema series


Arantxa Echevarria’s directorial debut Carmen & Lola (2018) presents an interesting foray into the Spanish Roma community with a sensual story about two young girls who defy cultural traditions through their romance. The film was shown at Directors’ Fortnight at the 2018 Cannes Film festival.

Perhaps the most original piece of the lot, the documentary Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle (Muchos Hijos, Un Mono Y Un Castillo, 2017), closes the Spanish Series on Sunday, October 14. In this directorial debut, well-known Spanish actor Gustavo Salmerón follows the story of his mother, Julita, traversing the whole spectrum from a simple life to wealth. The film got the Grand Prix at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The Series offers young Spanish filmmakers the chance to expose their talent by participating in the New Filmmakers’ Contest. This year’s winner is Pablo Montenegro whose half-minute spot was screened on opening night.

The Recent Spanish Cinema Series is co-presented by the Spanish Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA), a branch of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports devoted to preserving, fostering, and promoting the Spanish filmmaking and audiovisual sectors, the  American Cinematheque, a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to the public presentation of quality films beyond the scope of the mainstream, and EGEDA US, the US- based Ibero-American Audiovisual Producers’ Association which serves as a link between the US Film industry and those of Spain and Latin America.

Guests enjoy the Spanish atmosphere of a young and lively audience, red carpet events, predominantly red-colored galas with foreign guests, and traditional snacks.