PASSION and flamenco go together like pan con tomate, so it’s no surprise to hear producer-director Anna Holmes describe her film Spanish Steps: Flamenco in a Foreign Land as “a passion project”.
The making of this documentary has been a labour of love for the past 18 months or so after Anna was unable to secure funding from production companies. But thanks to a lifelong love of dance, plus the support of friends and family and her assistant producer Victor, Anna has succeeded in making her first film.
Her other reason for wanting to make this documentary was to capture a slice of social history before it’s too late – many of these flamenco pioneers are now in their 80s and sadly may not be with us for much longer.
London in the 1950s, what with post-war austerity and the notorious smog, must have been a pretty bleak place at times. But this was also an era of great social change, with many exciting, exotic new trends and tastes arriving from overseas.
Its popularity was shown once again this week when the Instituto Cervantes London was inundated with requests for places at a special preview screening of the film Spanish Steps: Flamenco in a Foreign Land.
This documentary pays homage to the pioneer flamencos who staged shows in London’s bars and restaurants from the 1950s onwards, paving the way for artists and aficionados alike to enjoy the thriving flamenco scene that is now so firmly established here.
These pioneers included both British amateurs and Spanish migrants escaping life under Franco, and many of the events were informal affairs, often in the basements of unglamorous Soho bars.
Nowadays flamenco is taken more seriously by London’s cultural establishment, with the annual festival at Sadler’s Wells and frequent events at other leading venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, as well as more informal concerts such as the monthly España on Fire at Ronnie’s Bar, upstairs at the famous Ronnie Scott’s. Then there’s restaurants including the well-known Costa Dorada in Hanway Street, the London Peña Flamenca . . .
Oscar-winning director, Oliver Stone’s hotly-anticipated documentary, South of the Border, reaches cinemas on Friday 30 July.
In preparation of its release, Dogwoof Distribution is running a competition for a chance to win tickets to the South of the Border UK premiere where Oliver Stone will be attending along with special guests.
The premiere takes place 19th July at the Curzon Mayfair and to enter, simply visit the website and sign up. It’s that easy!
Winners will be chosen at random and notified via e-mail on Wednesday 14th July.
And to join the South of the Border Facebook community, please follow this link – Dogwoof will be running further competitions here as well as conversation around the film’s issues and news.
Perhaps this is one of the things that keeps us going. The optimism, faith and hope, and the concrete evidence that we can change the course of history. – President Hugo Chavez
COME and join in the worldwide celebration of Spanish Language Day on Saturday June 19 as more than 70 Instituto Cervantes centres in 40 countries put on a host of special activities and entertainment.
Spanish is the official language of no fewer than 21 countries, so here in London we’re busy organising with ACALASP a programme that includes activities, exhibitions, demonstrations and music from several Latin American nations.
We’re also looking forward to the authentic flavours of Spain with gourmet tastings and workshops provided by Ibérica, one of London’s finest Spanish restaurants, and, of course, Wines From Spain. Pre-registration is ESSENTIAL for these tastings and workshops, which take place in the Eaton Square gardens between noon and 4pm. For full details see the Instituto Cervantes website.
But the main point of the day is the Spanish language, so we’ll be launching a ‘word shower’ to open the event at 10am, and offering activities including the Spanish Game, a crossword-type contest designed to test your Spanish skills.
And here’s the best bit … we’re offering all current Instituto Cervantes London students the chance to win a luxury tour of Andalucía, visiting all the major sights and staying in some of the region’s finest hotels.
21 – 27 January 2010. The Barbican Centre, London
From civil war and revolution in the Silent era, through the Golden Age of the 30s and 40s to the Nuevo Cine Mexicano, establishing global big-hitters Alfonso Arau (Like Water for Chocolate), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros) Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light), Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and Guillermo del Toro (The Devil’s Backbone) to name a few, Mexican cinema continues to go from strength to strength.
Hobby was conceived by director Ciro Altabas as a visual document to witness the release of the Nintendo Wii and the video-game culture in Japan. However, it slowly morphed into a showcase of some of the many ways in which the Japanese spend their leisure time. Watch this brilliant and very funny film over Christmas on RENDERYARD. http://www.dailymotion.com/renderyardchannel
We are delighted to present, once again, a selection of some of the best Spanish films from last year. The line-up includes Fesser’s controversial Camino, the big winner at the last Goya Awards and the last film directed by Agustín Díaz Yanes, Sólo quiero caminar, a director who we know, and welcome back for his successful feature Alatriste. As usual, we’ve also paid special attention to films by emerging talents (Un novio para Yasmina, Myna se va, La noche que dejó de llover). Vampir cuadecuc, an avant-garde film made in 1970 by producer and experimental filmmaker Pere Portabella, also features exceptionally in the selection as this film was in fact first shown on Spanish screens in 2008.