Sunday, September 30, 2007

Spain Sends THE ORPHANAGE to Fetch BFLF Oscar®


It's official. THE ORPHANAGE (EL Orfanato, Spain, 2007) directed by J. A. (Juan Antonio) Bayona and produced by Guillermo del Toro (PAN'S LABYRINTH), will represent Spain in the contest for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar®. That's a movie in languages other than English, and countries may submit only one film in the BFLF category.

ORPHANAGE bypassed the top film festival in Spain, San Sebastián, for the Film Festival of Catalonia at Sitges, a festival for fantasy and the fantastic. It will have its Spain premiere in Sitges at the opening gala 4 October.

Meanwhile, the Picturehouse release is making its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival as I write this, and is in competition. The movie stars Belén Rueda (Laura), Fernando Cayo (Carlos) and Geraldine Chaplin (Aurora), and it is the last name on the list that is very interesting, I think.

You see, one of the reasons the movie may have bypassed San Sebastián could be because that festival was pulling out all the stops to honor Carlos Saura for 50 years of filmmaking. They honored him with a Golden Shell. Before Saura, only Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, "the master," received one in 1981. Buñuel died in 1983.

If you don't know, Saura and Chaplin had a close relationship for many years in which she collaborated on the writing of the scripts, helped finance some of his projects, starred in a number of his movies and gave him his third son, Sean Saura Chaplin. Carlos was married with two sons. She was not. They never married, but were together shortly after she starred in DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) until the filming of her last movie with Saura, MAMA TURNS 100 (1979). There's much more, but you must wait for my book.

FADOS ("a musical documentary," from Portugal/Spain) is Saura's latest. The movie's Spanish premiere was at San Sebastián 21 September. It was a gala event where Saura received the Golden Shell from former Festival director and movie critic Diego Galán. Not only that, there was a live production of fado singers with flamenco dancers.

FADOS will have its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival in NYC, screening as a special event on 13 October. No word as yet if the fado singers will perform. The world premiere was at Toronto, the Spain one at San Sebastián, and the Canadian one at Vancouver. ORPHANAGE didn't appear at any of those.

Here, the plot thickens. FADOS is a Portuguese/Spanish production and Portuguese is spoken. So, I can hardly wait to find out if Portugal is submitting FADOS to AMPAS® as their official submission.

Geraldine Chaplin on the set of EL ORFANATO, 2007

The story of ORPHANAGE is that Laura (Rueda) returns with her family to the orphanage in which she grew up with the intention of opening a residence for children with disabilities. The new environment wakes up her son's imagination, and he begins to take on more and more intense games of fantasy.

As the games intensify, Laura becomes increasingly disturbed until she reaches the point where she thinks there is something in the house that is threatening her and her family. The escalation of events lead her to take her son for psychological help.


Scandinavian actor Per Oscarsson and Géraldine Chaplin in LA MADRIGUERS (The Burrow, 1969)

Have you seen Saura's movie LA MADRIGUERS, 1969? Take your pick of English titles: Honeycomb, The Burrow, The Den. If you have seen this movie, the above synopsis should prick your ears, because there is definitely a psychological similarity between the synopses of the two movies. At any rate, from what I am hearing, Geraldine may receive an Oscar nomination for her performance in this movie, and the movie stands a good chance, too.

Will someone please go see these movies in New York and send me a report? I Will appreciate it. If you have a fast Internet connection, you can catch the trailer here.

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