Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Spain Wrap-up! (Un poco tarde)

Here I am posting about Spain - weeks late (Mexico City Wrap-Up jumped the queue). Better late than never and Spain definitely deserves a post. To start off with, it is rumoured that Spanish men are very macho - I won't comment on that but I think the stance of this Spanish Lion says it all.

The These Girls tour of Spain started off in Valencia. Even thought I was in Valencia for less than 24 hours I felt like I was there longer. Thanks to Carlos - our translator and guide - we learned more in a few hours than I usually learn in a year. Here is a photo of Carlos with Diana Sanchez - intrepid Toronto Film Festival Programmer and Film Circuit representative in Spain. We are standing on the top of the medieval gates of Valencia, while modern European progress looms in the background.

The screenings were held at the La Filmoteca and if I ever get any of the photos of me introducing the film - employing my halting and stuttering Spanish - I will post them. The screening went very well, and even with electronic subtitles (the dialogue appears at the bottom of the screen on a led type display) the humour translated and the audience really got into it. After the screening we all went out to dinner with the nice people from the La Filmoteca. Strangely enough I was not treated to Paella, which Valencia is famous for, but to some very nice French cuisine. However, Carlos - that walking encyclopedia - did give me a thorough run down of all the aspects of paella (type of rice, type of water, types of meats, how the surf and turf mix, which is now common, was a modern thing, etc.) Here we are after dinner, mugging for the camera. Thanks so much to everyone at La Filmoteca.

A true testament to Europe's sense of civilization - a sense that we barbarians in North America have never understood - is the train service. Here is my breakfast on the train (Renfe) from Valencia to Madrid - I love the tiny bottle of olive oil. It was hard to come back to the cattle cars that are offered on Via Rail, here in Canada, and Amtrack in the US.

Then it was on to Madrid and the screenings there. I was joined by Cam Haynes, mastermind behind The Film Circuit, and Sean Garrity director of Lucid, another fine Canadian film showing in Madrid. Here is Sean and Cam in the glass elevator of the Reina Sophie Museum - yes we took in some culture, Picasso's Guernica was showing with all the preparatory sketches. A grim and powerful reminder of the horrors of war - Guernica at the museum and Middle East crisis playing on CNN back at the hotel.

I don't want to make it seem like Spain is nothing but food and lions with big cojones but I do think that if you had to sum up the place in a word it would be - Jamón.