SOCIETY OF THE SNOW – Review by Susan Granger

Oscar-nominated Society of the Snow is Spain’s entry for Best International Film at this year’s Academy Awards. J.A Bayona’s true-life survival tale centers on the 19 members of a Uruguayan rugby team that set off from Montevideo for Santiago, Chile, and was stranded in the snow-covered Andes for 72 days. Told primarily from the perspective of rugby player Numa Turcatti (Enzo Vogrincic Roldan), their ordeal begins on October 13, 1972, when poor weather conditions forced Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 to land in Mendoza, Argentina, overnight.

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SOCIETY OF THE SNOW – Review by Jennifer Green

Society of the Snow, Spain’s entry to the International Feature Film Oscar, is based on real events involving a 1972 chartered plane crash that killed upwards of two dozen people, among them members of a Uruguayan rugby team, and left others to fend for themselves for months in the freezing reaches of the Andes Mountains. Director J.A. Bayona focuses more acutely on the physical challenges the men faced during the two and a half months they were stranded in the Andes. The result is that you can finish this film and still feel you don’t know a lot about any one of the characters. The story is about the group – the society – more than its individuals.

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THE CHAPEL (Sitges 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Spanish filmmaker Carlota Pereda made an impressive international splash with her feature debut Piggy in 2022, adapted from her 2018 Goya Award winning short of the same name. Pereda successfully rides this earlier success to her sophomore effort, the ambitious horror-fantasy The Chapel. Pereda’s vision in The Chapel is a grand, expansive one, and it is hard to believe this is only her second feature film; clearly one of the leading lights of contemporary European genre filmmaking, if this is the caliber of work she is doing now, we can only imagine what further delights wait in store

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THE WAIT – Review by Nadine Whitney

F. Javier Gutiérrez takes the audience through what at first appears to be a dusty neo-western, then a revenge film, and finally an occult horror. The Wait is a muscular and particularly masculine film where the often-silent protagonist goes through a Dantean journey redolent with grief, guilt, and incipient madness. Dust, blood, and ingrained dirt saturate the film.

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THE GIRLS ARE ALRIGHT – Review by Tara Karajica

Spanish actress Itsaso Arana’s directorial debut, The Girls Are Alright (Las chicas están bien), is an amusing, thought-provoking and heart-warming gem of a film. It is the story of a group of girls who meet at a country house for a week in summer to rehearse a play. During their time together, they exchange their knowledge of friendship, acting, love, orphanhood and death; with the secret hope that sharing will make them better people. The Girls Are Alright is a summer tale with princesses, horses, toads, a fire, a fiesta, a river, myriad letters, and even a scatterbrained prince.

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YOU’RE NOT ME – Review by Nadine Whitney

You’re Not Me succeeds when it is acting as a story about uneasy family dynamics but when it moves into the overtly foreshadowed occultist horror it somewhat loses its power. Aitana with her wife Gabi and newly adopted baby son Joao arrive at her parents’ house as a Christmas surprise and receive a distinctly chilly reception. Instead of the welcoming voice of her mother which has been on the end of telephone calls over the past three years, she is greeted with seeming disdain and agitation from Dori and Justo who have effectively replaced Aitana as a daughter with a refugee called Nadia they encountered begging for shelter in exchange for menial tasks nine months ago.

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ALCARRAS – Review by Jennifer Green

This is a deceptively simple movie. It’s filmed with non-professional actors in a documentarian’s naturalistic, day-in-the-life style. It captures the realities of rural farm life in northwestern Spain (Alcarràs is a town in Catalonia) in a way that is rare for an international audience to see, providing accurate cultural details about the different generations of a single family. But more than its anthropological value, the film is also a beautifully shot and structured timepiece with a stealthily absorbing story.

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100 DAYS WITH TATA – Review by Jennifer Green

Shot during the Covid19 quarantine, 100 Days with Tata is Spanish director/actor Miguel Angel Muñoza’s heartwarming documentary love letter to Luisa Cantero, his 95-year-old great-aunt who never married, worked as a cleaning lady, and took care of him, her sister’s great-grandchild, as if he were her own son.

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Miguel Angel Muñoz on documenting life with TATA – Jennifer Green interviews

100 Days with Tata, the documentary that Spanish actor/director Miguel Angel Muñoz crafted out a year spent in Covid19 quarantine with his great aunt, Luisa Cantero, the titular Tata, is a testament to the power of love, the difficulty of aging, the reality of death and the importance of family.

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OFFICIAL COMPETITION – Review by Diane Carson

Official Competition goes behind-the-scenes with actors and a director. As Official Competition begins, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, multimillionaire Don Humberto Suarez asserts that he lacks prestige. Therefore, he must contribute to something lasting, a bridge with his name by a famous architect or a movie. For that latter option, he purchases the rights to the Nobel prize novel Rivalry, which he doesn’t read.

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