The Last Circus

The journey of Javier, the obese Sad Clown, starts during his childhood in the midst of the Spanish civil war in 1937. His father, one of Spain’s most prominent jesters, is detained and tortured by the fascist regime.

Half of Oscar (La mitad de Oscar)

The windswept beaches and mountains of Almeria are located on the Mediterranean in the southern province of Andalucia, Spain. It’s a city that is rarely portrayed in Spanish cinema, but one that Manuel Martín Cuenca uses as a central character in his second feature, “Half of Oscar.” It provides the ideal space to contemplate the complicated relationship between Oscar (Rodrigo Sáenz de Heredia) and his sister Maria (Verónica Echegui).

Oscar works as a security guard at a semi-abandoned salt mine. His lonely days consist of riding his bike to work, putting on his uniform and his gun and contemplating the mountains of salt.

Oscar’s routine is interrupted when his aging grandfather is moved from a home to the hospital and Oscar discovers that his sister, Maria, whom he hasn’t heard from in two years, will be coming to Almeria. To his bewilderment she arrives pregnant and with a boyfriend, Jean (Dennis Deyri). The tension between brother and sister is silent but palpable. Maria does not want to get too close, but Oscar is determined to plumb the situation for more information.

Martín Cuenca’s use of the unique environment of Almeria is one of the most accomplished elements in the film. The film’s spirit is distilled in a memorable scene where Maria walks ahead of Oscar and Jean on the beach. There, alone with the wind and the landscape, we feel how Maria’s acute desire for freedom is undermined by fear.

An exploration of familial taboos, Martín Cuenca’s quiet and austere feature delves into the deepest regions of the human soul. Unadorned with music, the soundscape is comprised of the natural ambiance of the landscape, which becomes as integral to the film as the visuals. Silence and subtext speak volumes in this poignant film about impossible loves. [Synopsis by Diana Sanchez/Toronto International Film Festival]

A Sad Trumpet Ballad

The journey of Javier, the obese Sad Clown, starts during his childhood in the midst of the Spanish civil war in 1937. His father, one of Spain’s most prominent jesters, is detained and tortured by the fascist regime.

Marshland

The Spanish deep South, 1980. A series of brutal murders of adolescent girls in a remote and forgotten town bring together two disparate characters – both detectives in the homicide division – to investigate the cases. With deep divisions in their ideology, detectives Juan and Pedro must put aside their differences if they are to successfully hunt down a killer who for years has terrorized a community in the shadow of a general disregard for women rooted in a misogynistic past.

Cannibal

Carlos is the most prestigious tailor in Granada, but he’s also a murderer in the shadows. He feels no remorse, no guilt, until Nina appears in his life. She will make him realize the true nature of his actions and, for the first time, love awakens. Carlos is evil incarnate. Nina is pure innocence. And Cannibal is a demon’s love story.

People In Places

This kaleidoscopic film weaves together approximately 20 fragmented scenarios that offer a view of contemporary Spain, drawing conclusions about the persistence of the human condition, strangeness, and the chaos within relationships. Starring Raul Arevalo, Eduard Fernandez and Santiago Segura.

Volver

Revolving around an eccentric family of women from a wind-swept region south of Madrid, Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) is a working-class woman forced to go to great lengths to protect her 14-year-old daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo). To top off the family crisis, her mother Irene (Carmen Maura) comes back from the dead to tie up loose ends.