Spanish Beatlemania movie wows film fest

A new film about "Beatlemania" under the Franco dictatorship entertained critics at the San Sebastian film festival on Tuesday, recounting how the British band's songs inspired one ordinary Spaniard during dark times.

Spanish Beatlemania movie wows film fest
Lennon really did spend time in Almeria in 1966 acting in the movie "How I Won The War". While there, he wrote the psychedelic classics "Strawberry Fields Forever". Photo:YouTube

"Living Is Easy With Your Eyes Closed" by Spanish director David Trueba tells the story of Antonio San Roman, a small-town schoolmaster who teaches his pupils English by playing them Beatles songs.

When Beatles star John Lennon comes to act in a film being shot in the southern Spanish city of Almeria, the schoolteacher sets out on a road trip, hoping to meet his hero, and picking up two young hitchhikers on the way.

The real-life tale, a fable of rebellion in a socially and sexually repressed Spain, drew laughs and applause from the audience on Tuesday at the San Sebastian Festival, one of Europe's top cinema events.

Spanish director David Trueba (2L) poses with the cast. Photo: Rava Rivas/AFP

Lennon really did spend time in Almeria in 1966, acting there in the movie "How I Won The War".

While there, he wrote one of The Beatles' psychedelic classics, "Strawberry Fields Forever" – although he is said to have taken the title of the song from a place in his native city of Liverpool.

"If one thing inspired me in John Lennon's visit to a country like Spain in the 1960s, it was that he represented the working class of Liverpool and had managed to rise up in a country as class-bound as England," Trueba, 44, told reporters after the screening.

"Just his mere presence in Spain, with what he radiated, in itself generated a kind of revolution and encouraged lots of youngsters."

The film screened in competition for the Golden Shell award, the top gong at the festival in the northern Spanish city, which runs until September 28th.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘The Girls’ wins big at Spain’s live-streamed 2021 Goya awards

Pilar Palomero’s debut coming of age film ‘Girls’ was the big winner at the 2021 Goya Awards on Saturday, held via a live-streamed ceremony.

‘The Girls’ wins big at Spain's live-streamed 2021 Goya awards
Antonio Banderas presented the 35th Goya Awards with Spanish journalist María Casado. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

The Goyas, Spain’s prestigious annual film awards ceremony, was held at the Teatro del Soho CaixaBank in Málaga. It was a hybrid on-site/virtual ceremony, with no audience nor nominees attending in person.

‘The Girls’, a generation portrait of Spanish women who would now be in their 40s, swept the awards, winning best picture, best new director, best original screenplay, and best cinematography.

Nominees appeared on a large video screen in a Zoom-like setup, and winners accepted prizes from their own homes with their families, giving the ceremony a more intimate feel than usual.

Málaga-born Antonio Banderas directed the ceremony, and other big stars such as Pedro Almodóvar, Penélope Cruz, Paz Vega, and Alejandro Amenábar also made appearances to present the awards.

The non-audience format gave the ceremony, which is broadcast on TV, a larger reach than usual. Celebrities including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron, and Isabelle Huppert sent in pre-recorded messages of support.

Just two days before international women’s day, gender issues featured strongly in nominated films and acceptance speeches. Women won almost as much as men, taking 12 categories, and Daniela Cajías became the first woman director of photography to win the best cinematography award for “Girls.”

In other categories, Mario Casas won best actor for “No Matarás” (Cross the Line), about a good-natured man who has an unexpectedly deadly confrontation, and Patricia López Arnaíz won best actress for her role in Ane (Ane is Missing), in which she plays a mother who investigates her daughter’s disappearance.

The Honorary Goya was awarded to actress Angela Molina, who starred in Luis Buñuel’s last film, “The Obscure Object of Desire”.

Last year, Pedro Almodóvar’s semi-autobiographical film Pain and Glory was the star of the ceremony, winning seven honours, including best picture, best director, original screenplay, and best actor for Antonio Banderas.