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Spanish Film Festival 2022

Movies starring Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Javier Bardem feature prominently in this year's 34-film showcase of Spanish and Latin American cinema.
By Sarah Ward
April 08, 2022
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By Sarah Ward
April 08, 2022
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Penélope Cruz didn't score an Oscar this year for Parallel Mothers. Her husband Javier Bardem didn't win one for Being the Ricardos, either. And, just a couple of years ago, Antonio Banderas also didn't nab a shiny Academy Award for Pain and Glory — but the three acclaimed actors are all winners at the 2022 Spanish Film Festival.

The annual cinema showcase spotlights not just Spanish but also Latin American cinema, and it's back for another Aussie tour throughout April and May — hitting up Melbourne's Astor Theatre, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, The Kino, Palace Balwyn and Pentridge Cinema from Thursday, April 21–Sunday, May 15. On the bill: 34 movies that hail from both regions, or tie into them in one way or another, including several with Cruz, Bardem and or Banderas at their centre.

Kickstarting this year's Spanish Film Festival with the Cruz- and Banderas-starring Official Competition must've been the easiest programming choice in the fest's history. A filmmaking satire, it casts Cruz as a famous director entrusted to bring a Nobel Prize-winning novel about sibling rivalry to the screen, and enlists Banderas as a Hollywood heartthrob. Throw all of that together and it's clearly film festival catnip, as the movie's berths at overseas fests such as Venice, Toronto and San Sebastián have already shown — and it'll enjoy its Australia premiere as the Spanish Film Festival's opening night pick.

The aforementioned — and sublime — Parallel Mothers is also on the lineup after releasing in Aussie cinemas earlier this year, if you missed it then. And, so are two Cruz-Bardem collaborations: Jamón Jamón, the pair's first film together, which marks its 30th anniversary in 2022, and 2017's Loving Pablo, which sees Bardem play Pablo Escobar.

Of course, the Spanish Film Festival spans plenty of movies that don't star Spanish cinema's best-known acting names, too — with 2022 Goya-winning political drama Maixabel, fellow Goya-recipient Mediterráneo: The Law of the Sea, psychological horror flick The House of Snails, road-movie comedy Carpoolers, and the coming-of-age-focused Once Upon a Time in Euskadi also on the program. Or, there's Girlfriends, about childhood pals reuniting; dramatic thriller The Daughter, which hones in on a pregnant teen; mother-daughter drama Ama; the Himalayas-set Beyond the Summit; and The Cover, about a pop star impersonator.

From the Cine Latino strand, ten films hail from the likes of Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic — including rom-com The Big Love Picture, thriller Immersion, the footballer-centric 9 and Goya-winner (yes, another one) Forgotten We'll Be.

Plus, the lineup also includes Language Lessons, which is directed by and starring Natalie Morales (The Little Things), and also features Mark Duplass (Bombshell) — with the pair navigating an online setup to play a Spanish teacher and her student. And, there's sessions of the Spanish-language version of Disney's Encanto as well.

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