The Last Laugh: An Alternate History of Spanish Comedy
December 12 – 18
Get ready to laugh! This is not, however, a showcase of Spanish comedies, strictly speaking. Rather, this series focuses on the tradition of grotesque humor present in myriad forms throughout the history of Spanish cinema. Grotesque humor calls to mind the metaphor of funhouse mirrors, whose reflections transform us into odd-looking beings—distortions that the early 1900s writer Ramón del Valle-Inclán termed “esperpento.” The films that belong to this tradition portray how drastically Spanish culture and society have changed over the last 60 years at the same time that they show how many of aspects of Spain have hardly changed at all. All of the films and filmmakers featured in this series are concerned, consciously or unconsciously, with the country’s social and political conditions, manifested through their “esperpentic” approach. The Last Laugh: An Alternate History of Spanish Comedy is not merely a historical journey, it’s also a provocative investigation into the essence of Spanish national identity—spotlighting some very dark humor while also illustrating a host of strategies for surviving in a modern society constantly in flux. Series programmed by Josetxo Cerdán and Gonzalo de Pedro Amatria.
See more for less with a 3+ Film Package or a $99 All Access Pass!
Amanece, que no es poco
Opening Night followed by a reception open to all ticket holders!
Amanece, que no es poco might seem to be an incoherent jumble of sequences, but in fact it is one of the high points of Spanish comedy, combining Buñuel’s surrealist derisiveness and Goya’s darkest, most biting humor.
Somewhere in between queer comedy, musical, and a grotesque portrait of the darker side of Spanish society, 20 Centimeters is a distorted and unfettered depiction of a still-chauvinistic country where fears, beliefs, and prejudices endure.
Q&A with director Santi Amodeo!
A 40-year-old junkie decides to follow a psychiatrist’s somewhat absurd list of dos and don’ts and finds love with a 16-year-old in Santi Amodeo’s taboo-pushing comedy. Screening with: Holy Thriller (María Cañas, 2m).
Caution to the Wind
Carles Mira took his iconoclastic passion for festivity to the extreme in Caution to the Wind, an irreverent flashback view of Spain’s past focused on an insane asylum through which all types of characters parade. Screening with: Meeting with Sarah Jessica (Vicente Villanueva, 20m).
In The Certificate, Vicente Lluch draws on the Mediterranean farce in order to hurl scathing criticism at the ethically reproachable and socially ridiculous Barcelona bourgeoisie.
Dying Beyond Their Means
Five desperate, common citizens from a fictitious country pretty much identical to Spain concoct a crazy plan to save their nation’s economy in this dark and rowdy comedy.
Justino: A Senior Citizen Killer
Q&A with director Santiago Aguilar!
This black comedy takes full advantage of its having been made after the end of the censorship restrictions of the Franco regime, and the creative duo La Cuadrilla revive the figure of the retired man that appears in The Little Coach and Not on Your Life.
The Last Circus
Álex de la Iglesia’s film returns to the idea of a violent and self-destructive Spain in the guise of circus clowns dueling for the love of a gorgeous trapeze artist.
The Last Horse
A stroll through Madrid on the brink of a makeover that changed both the city’s outer appearance as well as the lifestyles of those who live there—in particular Fernando, recently discharged from the army, which has decided to put down his faithful horse Bucéfalo. Screening with: Mystery / Misterio (Chema García Ibarra, 12m)
The Little Coach
This film portrays the trials and tribulations of Anselmo Proharán, a retiree willing to do anything, even do away with his family, in order to get himself a mobility scooter like those owned by his elderly cronies at the park. Screening with: El Engaño / The Cheating (Germán Scelso, 15m).
Mommy’s a Fool
Produced on a shoestring budget, with a visual style accentuating the cruelty of its content, Santiago Lorenzo’s satirical feature debut is a comedy that evokes both raucous laughter and smiles of recognition.
Not on Your Life
This no-holds-barred portrayal of people fighting to survive brutal situations follows Amadeo, an executioner on the verge of retirement who meets José Luis, a funeral parlor employee he tricks into becoming his heir. Screening with: Don Pepe Popi (Carlos Vermut, 16m).
People in Places
Introduction by actress Irene Santamaría!
A comedy with bitter undertones painted in muted colors, Juan Cavestany’s fourth feature is an episodic succession of sketches of daily life in a desolate, crisis-ridden Spain.
Tell Me About Sanchicorrota
Q&A with director Jorge Tur!
Jorge Tur’s tragicomic, feature-length documentary delves into the legend of a 16th-century bandit from the north of Spain, who robbed the rich to give to the poor. Screening with: Mr. Easter / Salve Melilla (Óscar Pérez, 52m).