Returning to Palace Cinemas in 2014, the Spanish Film Festival is full of drawcards. Here's ten of 'em:
1. Serial killers!
In chilling noir Cannibal, a shy tailor (Antonia de la Torre) in Grenada kills women for pleasure, but he doesn’t expect the twin sister of one of his victims to come knocking on his door – or that he'll be attracted to her.
2. Glamorous guests!
Madrid-born heartthrob Álex González features in two festival films: Scorpion in Love, playing a boxing neo-Nazi, and Combustion, as a racing driver seduced into the world of illegal car racing. González is coming to Melbourne to introduce the films and take part in Q&As.
Opening night film Living is Easy with Eyes Closed has a small-town schoolteacher (Javier Cámara) on a road trip to the set of the John Lennon film How I Won the War in 1966 to meet his hero. The movie won six Goya Awards including Best Film.
Featuring superstars of Spanish-language thrillers Ricardo Darín (The Secret in Their Eyes) and Belén Rueda (The Orphanage, Julia’s Eyes), Seventh Floor is nail-biter about a couple whose two children vanish without a trace.
5. Javier Bardem!
Spain’s big, big star plays a mean villain (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) and in Scorpion in Love he’s the leader of a neo-Nazi group reluctant to let a young recruit change his hateful ways.
For closing night, the festival is screening the outrageous black comedy Witching and Bitching, in which jewel thieves on the run encounter a coven of witches. The cast includes the great Carmen Maura.
7. Pan’s Labyrinth territory!
Like Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece, The Forest is a dark fantasy set during the Spanish Civil War. It involves a young farmer and his wife who share a secret about supernatural goings-on in the woods near their home.
8. Food porn!
Dramatic comedy Tasting Menu is set during a blow-out at a seaside Catalan restaurant, where tensions between an unlikely group of international characters rise with every delectable dish brought to their table.
9. Paulina Garcia!
The lovable Chilean star of Gloria is back in The Illiterate – about a middle-aged woman who confronts her inability to read or write. The film is adapted from a successful play.
The biggest film at the Spanish box office last year was Three Many Weddings, about a lovelorn scientist (Inma Cuesta) who is invited to the weddings of three of her ex-boyfriends in the same month – ay caramba. Cameron Diaz, I hope you're taking notes.