Foreign Film Reviews

To help mark the annual get together of the film-making world to celebrate the best films of the year at the Oscars we asked some of our teams working on the Open World Research Initiative (a research led project on modern languages) and our Translating Culture theme fellow for their picks of foreign language films that they have recently watched.

Cinema has always been a great medium for getting to know countries and cultures across the world: with films helping to deepen our understanding of people and places. Film-making gives people a chance to tell their story and share it with cinema-goers and film-lovers across the world.

La Reina de España, Fernando Trueba

“Eighteen years after Fernando Trueba’s La niña de tus ojos [The Girl of Your Dreams] (1998), the director reassembles the cast – including Penelope Cruz as Hollywood-darling Macarena Granada and Antonio Resines as Blas Fontiveros – for the sequel, La Reina de España [The Queen of Spain]. With the exception of several crude instances of political commentary and a questionable moment of humour hinging on the rape of one of the secondary cast members, Trueba offers a light-hearted, entertaining portrayal of the 1950’s Spanish film industry under the Franco dictatorship with strong echoes of the Carry-On franchise. As in the first film, the director profits from the opportunities for humour afforded by the presence of a multilingual cast, and this relationship between humour and multilingualism will be examined further as part of Strand 1 of the MEITS project. The film was selected for screening at this month’s 67th Berlinale Film Festival.”

Rhiannon McGlade is a Research Associate based University of Cambridge working on the ‘Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies’ research project.

Timecode, Juanjo Giménez

“The nominations for the 2017 Oscars under the Best Live Action Short category include the highly praised Timecode, winner of a long list of awards, including the Short Films Palme d’Or at the 69th Cannes Film Festival. This fifteen-minute Spanish film was directed by Catalan Juanjo Giménez. It tells the story of Luna (Lali Ayguadé ) and Diego (Nicolas Ricchini) who work as parking lot security guards. Diego does the night shift, and Luna works by day. An atypical romantic film, according to the director, Timecode tells “a story of discoveries and secrets” and exposes “art and beauty in the dullest of jobs and in the harshest places.” Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University are contributing to the OWRI –Cross Language Dynamics programme with work focused on generating new understandings of film literacy and languages.”

Dr Carmen Herrero is based at Manchester Metropolitan University and works with the ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’ research project

Beirt le Chéile, Stephen Daly

“This past year has seen the commemoration of 100 years since the Easter Rising in 1916 and subsequent independence from Britain for the greater part of Ireland. This was accompanied by various traumas: partition within Ireland and bitter division within families where some found themselves fighting for the British Army on the western front while others rebelled at home. The latter is the subject of a popular film in the Irish language, Beirt le Chéile, which has captivated students in looking afresh at these divisions in the context of the commemoration. So, too, the complexity of Irish identity as portrayed in Yu Ming is ainm dom has been discovered afresh and reached new audiences. Here a young Chinese man, having learned Irish in China, struggles to find anybody with whom to speak the language on his arrival in Anglophone Ireland until a chance encounter points him in the direction of the Gaeltacht, the Irish-speaking districts of the west. One hundred years since 1916, Ireland remains a contested space, politically and linguistically.”

Mícheál Ó Mainnín is Professor of Irish & Celtic Studies at Queen's University and works with the ‘Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies’ research project

Hiver nomade, Manuel von Stürler

“I managed recently to see a film I had wanted to catch for some time, Hiver nomade, a Swiss documentary from 2012 directed by Manuel von Stürler. The underpinning narrative is a simple one: two shepherds, Carole and Pascal, are taking a flock of 800 sheep on their annual transhumance to winter pastures. Travelling on foot, reliant on improvisation to handle the many challenges that emerge along the way, they carry the necessities of the journey with them. The shepherds have as additional companions only three donkeys and four dogs. Humans and animals endure harsh winter conditions as they move slowly – often painfully slowly – on their 400 mile itinerary. The whiteness of the snow and the darkness of the night alternate on the screen, and reflect the simplicity of a journey that seems somewhat out of place in the early twenty-first century. This is travelogue stripped back to its bare essentials, focussing on the ambiguous human relationship between the two shepherds, and offering a rare exploration of the interaction and interdependency of humans and animals in the field of travel. An often microscopic attention to nature and to the weather is entangled with wider visions of the countryside at the Swiss-French border, a zone still undergoing the increasingly rapid and now inexorable transformations of modernity.”

Charles Forsdick is James Barrow Professor of French, University of Liverpool and Arts and Humanities Research Council theme leader on 'Translating Cultures'

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