Thursday 24 January
EL SUR - 1983 (The South) Directed by Victor Erice 95 minutes In Spanish with English subtitles
Directed by the perfectionist Spanish filmmaker Victor Erice (El espíritu de la colmena / The Spirit of the Beehive), El Sur was his second film, made 10 years after his first, and it proves to be his second masterpiece. This is a small hidden gem, which has been criminally neglected. It's the kind of film for people who are tired of big "sound and fury" spectacles, and who want to get back to the magic of reality, who want something more rich internally. In its home country it was voted by critics to be the 6th best Spanish film of all time. When it was shown at the Cannes film festival back in 1983 it was hailed as a visionary masterwork.
This film's narrative is deceptively simple. It's based on a 47-page novella by Adelaida García Morales. It tells the story of a little girl who lives in La Rioja, a region in Northern Spain, but is fascinated by the secret world of her mysterious father, who comes from the south of the country. The south announced in the film’s title therefore remains a felt, mythical presence, almost dreamt but never reached or seen. The deep feelings transmitted between daughter and father reveal a delicacy that's rare in cinema. Beautifully filmed, its natural light illuminates thoughts, insights and emotions. For some people it's the most truly beautiful film they have ever seen. The debut appearance of child actress Icíar Bollaín, who soon lost interest in performing and has gone on instead to become one of the most important filmmakers of her generation.
One viewer's comments:
"I feel compelled to relate this as it has been at least ten years since I saw this film and it still has a powerful hold on my memory. I was so impressed, involved, and moved by this tale that I left the cinema feeling as if I were floating just above the pavement. One is quietly and adroitly drawn in by the mystery that the young daughter in 1950s Spain senses in her father. The political dimension is brilliantly nuanced, carefully alluded to without speechifying. The wondrous cinematography captures light so deftly at times that it is almost luminous: late afternoon sunlight across a room, snow slowly falling, a rain soaked street at night. It may not sound like much in my words, but from wool Victor Erice has spun gold."
This will be a high-definition screening.
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