Human tower launches seventh Edinburgh Catalan Film Festival as it embraces Pilton's young film makers
In Catalonia they're known as castells, human towers reaching skywards, so what better sight to launch the seventh Edinburgh Catalan Film Festival than the Capital's very own Colla Castellera, balancing in the shadow of the Castle.
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Creating the castell to symbolise a return to live events after last year's celebration was forced online by the pandemic, this year's Catalan Film Festival will run from November 25 to December 12 and include 12 feature films and 16 short films screened online and at cinemas in Edinburgh and across Scotland, as well as pop up events and a film making workshop with young people from North Edinburgh.
Director of the festival Rafael Cueto says, “We wanted to show that Catalan culture is alive in Scotland and that we are finally able to come together in person, so what better than a castell in the heart of Edinburgh.”
Laia Gazpio, president of Edinburgh-based Colla Castellera, whose members clambered on each other's shoulders for the photo opportunity, adds, “The castell is a very traditional symbol of Catalan culture. It is about social cohesion. It brings everyone together, and the stronger the base the higher the tower. This week we had our first meet up since the pandemic.”
With UK premieres, retrospectives and director Q&A sessions, the Catalan Film Festival has a huge following among Scottish movie fans who appreciate the avant-garde techniques and radical politics of the region.
Cueto says, “Catalonia is seen as the most European part of Spain and has been at the centre of film making since the days of the Lumière brothers. We are passionate about the art-form, and we believe that cinema has the power to change the world."
He continues, “There is a huge connection between Catalan and Scottish people, not least because of the people who went to fight for the International Brigades in the 1930s. After a year which has kept people separate, we have chosen films about connection and resistance.”
That connection will be reinforced at this year's festival through Gazing at the World Around Us, a four-day workshop run by film-maker Meritxell Colell who will travel to Scotland to work with young people from North Edinburgh, as they create short films documenting their lives and the places in which they live.
Cueto says, “We are working with Screen Education Edinburgh, which is based in Pilton. The idea is very much to bring cinema education and opportunity to groups of young people who are currently under-represented.”
Colell, who will also be in town for the premiere of her new film with Lucia Vassallo, Transoceánicas (Transoceanic), hopes the young film makers will find the beauty of their environment over the four day workshop.
She says, “People often say the place they live is not beautiful, but using the light and the sky, filmmakers can find the beauty in places.”
Available to watch online via Festhome, the premiere of Transoceánicas, which depicts a transatlantic relationship between two film makers, began as a correspondence between the two in which they exchanged images of their cities and home life in Barcelona and Buenos Aires.
Colell explains, "It began as an exchange of gifts, but it also includes letters we wrote to one another. When we began, we did not realise we were making a feature film.”
Also travelling to Edinburgh for a Q&A at the Filmhouse, Lothian Road, will be director Clara Roquet, whose film Libertad explores a female friendship across a class divide.
Another highlight is Sedimentos, by Adrián Silvestre, which will be shown at Old St Paul's, Jeffrey Street, and looks at the everyday lives of six Spanish transgender women.
All films will be subtitled in English with some venues operating a ‘pay-what-you-can’ policy to ensure the programme is accessible to a wide audience.
Programme co-ordinator Alberto Valverde, says, “Over the years we have established a reputation for finding the very best new films in Catalan and Spanish. Very often the films we select go on to win major prizes around the world.”
Nicola Kettlewood, manager of Film Hub Scotland, adds, “We are delighted to support CinemaAttic in its presentation of the Catalan Film Festival, an inspired film programme during these cold November days. We applaud the ongoing curation and delivery of film programmes by CinemaAttic, which have this year not only brought together audiences in Edinburgh but have been available to online audiences far and wide."
You can attend the Edinburgh Catalan Film Festival in person at:
Old St Paul’s, Jeffrey Street
Thursday, November 25, 8pm, Catalan Shorts
Friday, November 26, 8pm, Con El Viento + Q&A with Meritxell Colell
Monday, November 29, 7pm, Sedimentos
Filmhouse, Lothian Road
Thursday, December 2, 8.40pm, Armugán
Friday, December 3, 8.40pm, Los Tarantos
Saturday, December 4, 5.40pm Libertad + Q&A with Clara Roquet
Sunday, December 5, 6pm, El Ventre del Mar
Full programme, tickets and details can be found here