Salma Hayek, Ricardo Darin and Luis Tosar are just some of the stars of the Spanish-speaking world set to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Spanish Film Festival on the big screen at Palace Cinemas nationally July 5 - 26.

Screening a select programme of the best in contemporary cinema from Spain and Latin America, the festival presents 22 acclaimed feature films across a wide range of genres, with a multitude of Australian Premieres.

The sharp selection includes films from the recent editions of Spain’s own San Sebastian and Málaga Film Festivals, as well as films from many more of the world’s premier film festivals including the very recent 2012 Berlin, Tribeca, and Sundance Film Festivals. Also confirmed is Spain’s biggest domestic box office opener of all time, TORRENTE 4, and the biggest Goya Award (Spanish Oscar) winner of 2012, NO REST FOR THE WICKED, which beat Almodovar’s THE SKIN I LIVE IN to take out awards in 6 major categories.
 Festival Director Natalia Ortiz created the festival 15 years ago and is delighted to have watched it become the leading Spanish Film Festival in the Asia Pacific region. She says, ‘I am thrilled to see the festival celebrating its 15th birthday in 2012.

It has been a long and wonderful journey enabling people to experience and to fall further in love with Spanish language cinema. The incredible feedback and response from audiences has always kept my own passion for the industry alive and well, and we are very proud to have introduced the early films of now hugely renowned filmmakers like Oscar winning Alejandro Aménabar, whose first film screened in the first edition of the festival!’

Salma Hayek shines in the OPENING NIGHT film - AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT (La chispa de la vida, Spain 2011) a visually stunning contemporary satire - from the 2012 Berlinale and named the jewel of the Tribeca Film Festival by Indiewire - about an out-of-work renowned advertising executive who suffers an accident and plans to sell the exclusive interview rights to the highest bidder in an attempt to provide for his family. A 15th birthday fiesta with drinks, canapés and a live salsa band will follow the Opening Night screening.

Shortlisted for 2012 Oscar nomination, screened to great acclaim at San Sebastian Film Festival and currently screening in competition at the 2012 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, animation for adults WRINKLES (Arrugas, Spain 2011) follows in the footsteps of last year’s beloved Oscar nominated animation CHICO AND RITA as a festival highlight. WRINKLES won the 2012 Goya Awards (Spanish Oscars) for Best Animated Feature and Best Adapted Screenplay - an incredible win for an animated film, and two weeks ago director Ignacio Ferreras was named one of Variety’s Ten Euro Filmmakers To Watch. The Hollywood Reporter called this charming story of two old men in a nursing home 'a genuine crowd pleaser deserving of the widest possible exposure'. "It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s sweet, it’s heartbreaking. It’s brilliant." is how The Guardian's chief film-critic Peter Bradshaw encapsulated this outstanding Spanish animation, included in his top five films of 2011.

Direct from the San Sebastian Film Festival and the World Competition at Sundance 2012 is the engrossing drama MADRID, 1987 (Spain 2011), directed by David Trueba, younger brother of former festival guest Oscar winner Fernando Trueba and a prominent writer and director in his own right. A compelling and highly cinematic two-hander, it stars the veteran Spanish actor José Sacristán as a respected reporter and the beautiful, young María Valverde as a journalism student who spend the day locked in a bathroom together after a seduction attempt backfires.

CLOSING NIGHT will treat Australia to the insomnia-provoking psychological thriller SLEEP TIGHT (Mientras duermes, Spain 2011) starring a pitch-perfect Luis Tosar (Cell 211, 18 Meals, Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control) as an apartment block concierge in Barcelona who turns on the inhabitants after dark, from Jaume Balaguero, director of the ground-breaking REC.

Further reinforcing Spain’s position at the forefront of the thriller genre is NO REST FOR THE WICKED (No habra paz para los malvados, Spain 2011), - a box office hit in Spain and winner of 6 Goya Awards in 2012, having been nominated in almost every category. A thriller involving a corrupt cop, the Colombian Mafia and North African terrorists, it has been dubbed by Variety as ‘explosive … the kind of movie that gives dramas about bad cops a good name’. From the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival is crime thriller UNIT 7 (Grupo 7, Spain 2012), directed by Alberto Rodriguez (7 Virgins), starring Antonio de la Torre (Cousinhood, Volver), about 4 policemen handed the tough assignment to eradicate drug trafficking from Seville ahead of the 1992 World Expo. In thriller DARK IMPULSE (Lo major de Eva, Spain 2011), Leonor Watling (Talk to Her) stars as a strong principled woman, who gives in to her sexual impulses, with devastating results.

Leading German actor Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds, Goodbye Lenin!) and Lluis Homar (Julia’s Eyes, Broken Embraces) star in the action packed WINNING STREAK (The Pelayos, Spain 2012), based on the true story of the Pelayo family who travelled the world winning millions of dollars at casinos by capitalizing on a roulette wheel’s imperfection. The real Pelayo family was there to support the world premiere screening at this year’s Málaga Film Festival.

From further afield than Spain, the festival includes films from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Perú:

 Winner of both Best Film and the Audience Award at the Rome International Film Festival, and the 2012 Goya for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film, endearing drama CHINESE TAKE AWAY (Un cuento chino, Argentina/Spain 2011), set in Buenos Aires, stars celebrated Argentinean actor Ricardo Darín (The Secret in Their Eyes, Nine Queens) as a solitary man compelled to take in a Chinese lodger; female writer/director Rosario Garcia-Montero marks herself as one to watch with her feature debut, absorbing drama THE BAD INTENTIONS (Las malas intenciones, Perú /Argentina/Germany 2011), a coming-of-age tale of a young girl during tumultuous times in Perú, who convinces herself she will die on the same day her brother is born; from the 2011 San Sebastian Film Festival is the memorable road movie FISHERMAN (Pescador, Ecuador/Colombia 2011), about a village fisherman who encounters a Colombian beauty and finds a box of cocaine washed up on the beach, providing a way out of town for both of them, directed by Sebastian Cordero (Rage).

From Argentina are romantic comedies STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (Extraños en la noche, Argentina 2012), starring two time Grammy nominated Diego Torres as one of a pair of amateur musicians in Buenos Aires struggling to make ends meet, and audience favourite MY FIRST WEDDING (Mi Primera Boda, Argentina 2011), a crowd pleasing caper set on a luxurious Argentinean estate where the groom (Daniel Hendler, a Berlin silver bear winning actor) tries to postpone his wedding on the day of the event, as he seems to have lost the rings...

In Mexican box office smash hit comedy SAVING PRIVATE PEREZ (Salvando al Soldado Perez, Mexico 2011), the most powerful drug cartel mogul in Mexico embarks on a mission handed to him by the only authority he respects... his mother. Joined by a motley crew of Bandido commandos, he risks his life to rescue his brother from war-torn Iraq. According to Variety, 'The horrific events in Mexico are proving fertile ground for black comedy, and though "Saving Private Perez" is certainly not the blackest, it may well be the funniest.” Also from Mexico is the award winning feature debut of Kenya Marquez, EXPIRATION DATE (Fecha de Caducidad, Mexico 2011) a dark and inventive feature about a mother searching all over Guadalajara for her missing layabout son.

Comedies from Spain include the endearing COUSINHOOD (Primos, Spain 2010), which follows three cousins Diego, Julian and Miguel as they return to the seaside village of their youth after one of them is jilted at the altar, only to find themselves caught up in further sticky situations, mostly of their own doing. TORRENTE 4 (Spain 2011) was Spain’s biggest domestic film opening of all time. Directed by and starring Santiago Segura (also in Opening Night film As Luck Would Have It and Le Chef), is the fourth story in this phenomenally successful series about a disgraced former cop-turned-private-investigator, full of its trademark gross-out humour and political incorrectness.

Romantic comedies to delight audiences include the witty romantic comedy THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE (Lo contrario al amor, Spain 2011) - set against the backdrop of bustling Madrid, starring Adriana Ugarte (also in Dark Impulse) as a masseuse who has a fling with all three of the handsome firefighters who rescue her from a lift, before one of them tempts her away from her polygamous ways; and SIX POINTS ABOUT EMMA (Seis puntos sobre Emma, Spain 2012), a captivating film about a blind woman obsessed with becoming a mother. When her boyfriend won’t help her, she goes on a quest to find the perfect man to help her conceive…. In WIDOWS (Viudas, Argentina, 2011), a happily married woman finds a young and attractive woman grieving at her husband’s bedside, much to her surprise!

Family-friendly for the school holidays, SNOWFLAKE, THE WHITE GORILLA (Copito de Nieve, Spain 2011) is seamless combination of animated animals and live action humans. Inspired by the real life albino gorilla and star of the Barcelona Zoo, it screened at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.
For grown up lovers of swashbuckling adventure is the epic CAPTAIN THUNDER AND THE HOLY GRAIL (Capitan Trueno y el Santo Grial, Spain 2011), a story adapted from the most popular Spanish comics of all time, Captain Thunder, a 12th century knight who travels the world fighting injustice.
The 15th Spanish Film Festival is presented by Estrella Damm and produced with the support of Palace Cinemas, the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs in Spain, the Spanish Consulate in Sydney and Melbourne, The Spanish Embassy, SBS TV and Radio, World Movies, Singapore Airlines, Bocata Spanish Deli, Negociants/Torres Wines and many prestigious Spanish and Australian companies.
Sydney 4 - 15 July                             Palace Norton Street & The Chauvel        
Melbourne 5 - 15 July                             Palace Cinema Como & Kino Cinemas      
Brisbane 11 - 22 July                           Palace Centro    
Adelaide 12 - 22 July                           Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas    
Perth 19 - 26 July                           Cinema Paradiso              

Full festival information available from very soon.
TICKETS on sale June 13 from cinema box offices and online, see festival website for details.
IMAGES: Available on request.
INTERVIEWS: Festival Director Natalia Ortiz is available for interviews on request.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alicia Brescianini at CG Publicity
Ph: (03) 5428 4011 I 0400 225 603 I

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT (La chispa de la vida, Spain 2011)
CAPTAIN THUNDER AND THE HOLY GRAIL (Capitan Trueno y el Santo Grial, Spain 2011)
CHINESE TAKE AWAY (Un cuento chino, Argentina/Spain 2011)
COUSINHOOD (Primos, Spain 2010)
DARK IMPULSE (Lo major de Eva, Spain 2011)
EXPIRATION DATE (Fecha de Caducidad, Mexico 2011)
FISHERMAN (Pescador, Ecuador/Colombia 2011)
MADRID, 1987 (Spain, 2011)
MY FIRST WEDDING (Mi Primera Boda, Argentina 2011)
NO REST FOR THE WICKED (No habra paz para los malvados, Spain 2011)
SAVING PRIVATE PEREZ (Salvando al Soldado Perez, Mexico 2011)
SIX POINTS ABOUT EMMA (Seis puntos sobre Emma, Spain 2012)
SLEEP TIGHT (Mientras duermes, Spain 2011)
SNOWFLAKE, THE WHITE GORILLA (Copito de Nieve, Spain 2011)
STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (Extraños en la noche, Argentina 2012)
THE BAD INTENTIONS (Las malas intenciones, Perú/Arg./Ger. 2011)
THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE (Lo contrario al amor, Spain 2011)
TORRENTE 4 (Spain 2011)
UNIT 7 (Grupo 7, Spain 2012)
WIDOWS (Viudas, Argentina, 2011)
WINNING STREAK (The Pelayos, Spain 2012)
WRINKLES (Arrugas, Spain 2011)

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