Last night, for the 34th time, the ‘Spanish Oscars’ were presented, namely the Goya Awards of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Alejandro Amenábar's While at War (Mientras dure la guerra) received the most nominations of all films in the competition, as many as seventeen, and won five awards (Best Supporting Actor, Best Debutant, Costume, Makeup, Best Artistic Director, Best Production). Famed for his films Open Your Eyes (Abre los ojos) and The Sea Inside (Mar adentro), which received an Oscar, Alejandro Amenábar returns to directing in Spanish after 15 years.
While at War is an intense, emotional drama, set in 1936, at the very beginning of the Spanish Civil War, viewed from the perspective of one of Spain's best writers, Miguel de Unamuno. The famous writer decides to publicly support the military rebellion in the belief that it will bring order to the chaos that prevails in Spain. The left-wing government immediately fired him from his post as dean at the University of Salamanca. Meanwhile, General Francisco Franco gathers insurgency forces and launches a successful military operation from the south, secretly planning to seize control of the country. The conflict is increasingly bloody and some of Unamuno's friends and colleagues have been arrested, forcing him to reconsider his original support for General Franco and his principles. When Franco moves his headquarters to Salamanca and is declared commander, Unamuno visits him, determined to seek mercy on his friends and colleagues. This is a story of the past that raises urgent questions to our present, and which critics call one of the key films of 2019. Not only because it is an important historical lesson, but because it delivers an extremely relevant anti-fascist message. This is a lavish drama about the beginning of Franco's regime, and about how he sealed Spain's future for almost forty years.
You can watch the film While at War at FEST on Wednesday, March 4th at the Sava Centre at 9:30 p.m. FEST has secured exclusive festival rights for this film, and after that it will not be in regular distribution, so do not miss out to watch it on the big screen!
In the category of Best Ibero-American film, the film Heroic Losers (La odisea de los giles) by Argentinian director Sebastián Borensztein won. This was the most watched film in Argentina in the past year, the Argentine Oscar nominee, and a special treat is the collaboration on the big screen of father and son - Ricardo and Chino Darin. Ricardo is one of the best Argentine actors, while his young son Chino successfully followed in his father's footsteps. We had the opportunity to get to know Chino last year, when he opened FEST and enchanted the local audience while promoting the film El Angel. Judging by the remarkable success of the Argentine film Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) from a few years ago, which was an absolute favorite of the FEST audience, there is no doubt that the Argentine sense of humor fits the mentality of this region, therefore Heroic Losers will no doubt achieve similar success. It is an action comedy that critics liken to Ocean's Eleven, and follows a group of neighbours and friends who come together to recover their hard-earned money from a banker who cheated on them. Unexpected, unsuspecting criminals from the people against the corporate system, with loads of fun and crazy situations - sounds like a recipe for another hit with FEST audiences.
The Colombian film Monos was also nominated for Best Ibero-American Film and will be screened in the FEST Main Competition Programme. It is a hypnotic thriller depicting a children's guerrilla army, inspired by the novel Lord of the Flies and the film Apocalypse Now. ‘A gorgeous film that you have to watch on the big screen with a great sound system,’ said one critic. The film was screened at Sundance, where it won a special jury award, and in addition to many other accolades, it has triumphed at festivals in Palm Springs and San Sebastian.