With 38 features on the bill, from Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's latest Trip to bank robber thrillers and Goya-winning revenge flicks.

Every time one of Australia's many cultural film festivals rolls around, viewers are taken on a journey to another country. Celebrating its 20th event, the 2017 Spanish Film Festival is embracing that idea — and they have the perfect movie for it. This year's festival will close with The Trip to Spain, the third instalment in the Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon driving-and-dining series following 2010's The Trip and 2014's The Trip to Italy.

Of course, the Spanish Film Festival has put together a hefty program that showcases more than two British comedians trading Michael Caine impressions while seeing gorgeous Spanish sights and ticking off the country's fine dining spots, with the full lineup boasting 38 features. In Sydney from April 18 until May 7, the festival will kick off with Kiki, Love to Love, which actually has an Australian connection. Telling five comic tales about the passionate lives of Madrid lovers, it's based on Hoges actor Josh Lawson's 2014 directorial debut The Little Death. The film's star Natalia de Molina will be attending the opening night festivities too.

Elsewhere at Palace Verona, Palace Norton Street and Chauvel Cinema, expect a vibrant cross-section of Spanish-language cinema, including moving coming-of-age effort Summer 1993, the Penelope Cruz and Cary Elwes-starring The Queen of Spain, and tense dark comedy The Bar, all heading to our shores after screening at the Berlinale. Or, viewers can catch the Goya-winning revenge flick The Fury of a Patient Man, bank robber thriller Escape Plan, secret agent spoof Heroes Wanted, literary-focused Venice Film Festival hit The Distinguished Citizen, or social realist musical At Your Doorstep. Plus, the program also features walk-and-talk romance The ReconquestSmoke & Mirrors' true tale of corruption from the makers of 2015 festival standout Marshland, and Spain in a Day — the latest crowd-shot time-capsule companion piece to 2011's Life in a Day, joining fellow efforts made in Britain, Japan, Italy and India.

This year's festival selections don't stop there, with four films embracing the joys of flamenco, spanning both dance and music. For those keen on looking back as well as catching the latest cinematic fare, three retrospective screenings will showcase the work of actress, singer and filmmaker Ana Belén, who has more than 35 albums, 40 films and 30 theatrical productions on her resume.

Published on April 19, 2017 by Sarah Ward

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