There was a time when every Spanish film was about the Spanish Civil War, usually about the aftermath and the rough handling of the losers by the nasty winners. Fortunately that has changed nowadays and we get a good spread plots and genres.
Most Spanish films are made with TV money and with subsidies from film funds. This means that they look a bit like those BBC funded films, quite modest in scale, with production values that betray their small screen destinations. If they have a historical theme (and lots do) they are nearly always shot in a sort of muddy brown colour and use the Spanish equivalent of thou to prove their authenticity. Obviously they are voiced in Spanish or, to be more accurate, Castilian. Actually, unless you're in one of the big cities it's nearly impossible to find a film in its original language - everything gets dubbed into Castilian. Colin Firth, King George VI or el Rey Jorge VI has a nice Madrid accent.
The Goyas are the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars. There were plenty of decent nominations this year in genre as diverse as horror, social drama, black comedy and historical. They were presented the same night as the BAFTAs and, as in the UK, one film swept the board. It was a Catalan film called Pa Negre - Black Bread. The theme was the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. One of the interesting things about it was that it was voiced in Catalan with Castilian subtitles.
We had our doubts; the Civil War- hmm? But nine Goyas; it just had to be good and with the bonus that Castilian subtitles would make it dead easy to understand. It wasn't in Catalan by the time we saw it this afternoon, dubbed just like all the rest of the foreign films. And tedious. Tedious as they come. Obviously the theme had to be grim, the film colouring sombre and everyone had to live in filthy unheated hovels. There had to be Guardia Civil with capes and tricorn hats and if there wasn't a gay character then how could it be true to life? Film making by cliché. Actually I could be wrong, I had great difficulty understanding the dialogue and I couldn't tell one raggedy haired person from the next so I slept through a good part of it. Maybe it was a cinematic milestone after all.