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The Valladolid Film Festival celebrates half a century

The Valladolid Film Festival --"SEMINCI" -- ("Semana Internacional de Cine", or International Film Week), which was launched in 1956 and has been held every year since without interruption, this year celebrates its Golden half-century Anniversary. As usual the emphasis will be on non-mainstream features, auteur directors, and a wide variety of shorts and documentaries.
The opening film tonight at the elegant Teatro Calderon will be the latest offering from Constantine Costa-Gavras, "Couperet", a French-Belgian-Spanish co-production released here under the title "Arcadia", starring busy but little known outside of France French actor, Jose Garcia. The press release here describes it as a Hitchcockian type thriller with political overtones.
The two sentence plot summary: A chemist (Garcia) loses his job to outsourcing. Two years later and still jobless, he hits on a solution on how to eliminate his competition -- Kill them! Sounds like a comedy-noir, which is not what we usually expect from Mr. Gavras, so I'm holding my breath. Gavras and his star, Garcia, will hold a press conference tomorrow morning.
Another big name set to arrive and confer with the journalists is Ang Lee.
During the week there will undoubtedly be an impressive procession of other directors and thespians as well.
The 50th Anniversary Prize, with a cash award of 50.000 € highlights how important it is for the Festival to be celebrating its Golden Anniversary.
This Prize, which will be split between the producer and the director of the winning film, will be awarded by a Jury of seven professionals who will also award the Golden Spike, Silver Spike, Best New Director (‘Pilar Miró’ Prize), Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director of Photography prizes.
Three of these also have cash awards: the Golden Spike with 35.000 €; the Silver Spike with 17.500 €, in both cases for the Spanish distributors of the respective films and the Best New Director award with 15.000 € for the filmmaker of a first or second feature.

Shorts in the Official Section will also compete for a 50th Anniversary Prize of 12.000 € to be split between the producer and the director.
Additional prizes are the Golden Spike and Silver Spike with cash awards for the filmmakers of 9.000 € and 4.500 €, respectively, plus the Prix UIP Valladolid for the best European short produced in 2005 with a maximum running time of fifteen minutes, which has a cash award of 2.000 € given by the European Film Academy and an automatic nomination as one of the finalists of the European Film Academy Short Film Award. Other prizes are the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize, the Audience Prize and the Youth Prize.
This section, which is parallel to the Official Section, contains fiction films worthy of special consideration either for their subject matter or for their style, and is also competitive. The audience will vote for their
favourite feature and favourite short film. The producer of the winning feature and the director of the winning short will receive 12.000 and 3.000 €, respectively. The subsection ‘A Night of Spanish Shorts’ will have a separate cash award of 3.000 € for the director of the winning film, also selected by the audience.

An interesting competitive documentary section, ‘Time of History’, now over twenty years old, consists of films in 35mm format, which deal with important events or moments of history as seen from the priviledged viewpoint of the cinema. A Jury of three specialists will dish out a First Prize of 12.000 € and two Second Prizes of 6.000 €, to the filmmakers of the top documentaries.

SPANISH CINEMA 2004-2005 is a showcase overview of the most outstanding national productions made over the past year. The films are subtitled in English and this sidebar is specially geared towards the non-Spanish speaking journalists and professionals of the film world in attendance here at Valladolid.

Geographical Note: Valladolid -- a name redolent with history -- it was the capital of the Spanish Kings when Madrid was still not too much more than a wide place in the road, and its location two and a half hours by rail or road to the north-west of Madrid, puts it smack in the heart of the high-dry plateau where the Rain in Spain is mostly on the plain --(although it drizzles quite a bit in the city as well). The name apparently, is a very old form meaning "Valley of the Olives" and people from here are known as "Vallisoletanos", which is quite a mouthful, even for Spaniards. However, to make it easier the locals just call the city "Puzela", which, like the french "pucelle" means young virgin -- as the aristocratic women of old were called in these parts. The first I ever heard of Valladolid was in a very old International Film Guide (IFG) vintage 1967, where the festival, then a very young one was listed as an up-and-coming venue for international cinema. I was so enthralled by just the sound of the name that I took a private oath that one day I would make it here, or bust --- well, as the saying goes, "Better late than never! "

By Alex Deleon


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