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Natalia Ortiz 14th Spanish Film Festival Interview

Natalia Ortiz 14th Spanish Film Festival Interview

The 14th Spanish Film Festival is delighted to welcome three internationally acclaimed guests to the festival this May for the Australian Premiere screenings of their films, the latin jazz animated romance Chico and Rita, compelling drama about family and fatherhood Anything You Want, and the gripping story of two soccer playing brothers in Caracas, Hermano. Goya Award winning director Achero Mañas (Anything You Want), director and animator Tono Errando (Chico and Rita), writer Rohan Jones (Hermano) will present special selected screenings of their films, which all explore the lengths people go to for those they love.

The first Australian filmmaker guest in the history of the festival, writer and VCA graduate Rohan Jones will present selected Q&A screenings of his debut feature film Hermano, which not only was Venezuela's entry to the Oscars but also won Best Film and both the critics' and audience awards at the Moscow Film Festival. Written together with fellow VCA graduate and Venezuelan director Marcel Rasquin, Hermano is a powerful drama with real heart about the bond between two soccer playing brothers in the slums of Caracas.

Anything You Want is the highly original third feature film from Goya winning director (and former actor) Achero Mañas which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It follows his hugely acclaimed and 4 time Goya winning feature debut El Bola (Pellet) which garnered him international attention and acclaim, and November, winner of the critics' (FIPRESCI) prize at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Deftly handled and emotionally rewarding, Anything You Want is a highly compelling and intelligent film that explores the changing face of fatherhood in the modern world. When Leo suddenly finds himself a single parent, he forgoes his own prejudices at the request of his daugher, and dresses as her mother to help her overcome her grief, much to the surprise of those around them.

Goya winning animation for grown-ups, Chico and Rita is magical and musical love story that journeys from Cuba to New York and beyond against the seductive backdrop of the birth of latin jazz, with a phenomenal soundtrack by legendary Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes and featuring flamenco singer Estrella Morente.

Director Tono Errando is one of the three directors of this phenomenal collaboration, alongside Oscar winning filmmaker Fernando Trueba and Spain's most acclaimed designer, Javier Mariscal. At his special presentations following select festival sessions, Tono Errando will use the big screen to give viewers a fascinating and revealing behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing together three creative talents to give life to such a unique film, and one that was a very personal and cherished project for all of them. Tono Errando is responsible for the audio-visual output of Barcelona's renowned Mariscal studio, where he works with his three brothers.

National Festival Dates and Locations
Sydney: Wed 11 - Sun 22 May, Palace Norton Street & Chauvel in Paddington
Melbourne: Thu 12 - Sun 22 May, Palace Cinema Como & Kino Cinemas
Brisbane: Wed 18 - Sun 29 May, Palace Centro Cinemas
Adelaide: Thu 26 - Sun 29 May, Palace Nova Eastend
Canberra: Thu 26 - Sun 29 May, GU Manuka
Perth: Wed 25 - Sun 29 May, Cinema Paradiso
Auckland: Wed 18 - Thur 26 May at Rialto Newmarket

Full programme and ticketing information:

Interview with Natalia Ortiz

Natalia Ortiz is the 14th Spanish Film Festival Director.

Question: Can you talk about the highlights of the 14th Spanish Film Festival?

Natalia Ortiz: I can't possibly choose the biggest highlight (laughing)! The opening night film, The Last Circus, is really good; it has collected a lot of awards internationally and is from one of our major directors, Álex de la Iglesia. The Last Circus is a challenging, funny, violent and sexy film. The film will be followed by a huge party, afterwards with music and I think that is a highlight. I also believe that our section of Latin-American films is very strong, this year, I highly recommend not to miss any of them, to be honest.

Question: How long has it taken to put together this year's Spanish Film Festival program?

Natalia Ortiz: Months! I am already working on next year's festival. It is a working process but the biggest time is from January till the festival, it takes five to six months to secure the program from the wish list to the final list as well as the guests.

Question: Can you describe the process involved in having international guests attend the 14th Spanish Film Festival?

Natalia Ortiz: Every festival is different but because we coincide with Cannes International Film Festival that makes it difficult as well as the fact that Australia is so far from Spain. Basically what we do is look at the films and I think about what might be interesting for the audience. I always look for an actor or actress because they give glamour to the festival and I like to secure a good director who can give a Q&A with audiences. From there I sent invitations and they say 'yes', 'maybe' or 'no' it's a large process and sometimes guests have to cancel because they have quite tight agendas although most of the time they are very happy to be invited.

Question: How important are the Question and Answer sessions at the Spanish Film Festival program?

Natalia Ortiz: Question and Answer sessions give glamour and a feel to the festival that it's not just a film screening; when you have someone special it makes the event different to a normal screening in a cinema. The Question and Answer sessions at the Spanish Film Festival are also good for anyone who is interested in an actor, actress or the process of film making. This year a director is attending and providing a masterclass on an animation film that is conducted like a private lesson which is going to be really good for the Spanish Film Festival and the audience.

Question: What was your biggest challenge this year?

Natalia Ortiz: The biggest challenge is putting the entire festival together from the band that plays on the opening night to the food you wish to select and choosing the films to guests and choosing the correct film sections. Everything is a challenge, the whole package, I wouldn't say one thing is more difficult than another.

Question: What film are you most excited about for the 14th Spanish Film Festival?

Natalia Ortiz: They're all like my little babies, I like them all! Obviously the choices I make for the opening and closing night are close to my heart. I think the opening night movie, The Last Circus, is a risky choice but I was quite conscious of why I was making that choice - it is a film that is very difference, challenging, exciting and a little bit violent. The Last Circus is a very good, high quality film and I think it summarises the festival very well because all the components that are within the film are what describes what we wish to portray for the rest of the film festival.

The closing night is an excellent film, it's a thriller starring Belén Rueda who is one of my favourite actresses and I think Julia's Eyes is really a brilliant film.

Question: What would you say is the ultimate goal for the 14th Spanish Film Festival?

Natalia Ortiz: It is the same as every year, the Spanish Film Festival wishes to portray the best films that we are producing in Spain and Latin America - I think we have achieved it this year, more than ever; the quality of the films this year are outstanding.

Question: Have you seen the numbers attending the festival accumulated over the years?

Natalia Ortiz: Oh yes; last year for example, Melbourne's attendance increased by 29% which was really good. Over 13 years you expect to grow 5-10% but 29% is really great - it will be hard to match that, this year.

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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