I didn’t make it to the Spanish premiere at Docúpolis in Barcelona two weeks ago, but I did make it to Ourense for the next Spanish festival. Ourense is nestled in the luscious green hills of Galicia, about 100 km from the Atlantic Ocean, and has a delightful old town along with a really funky new bridge – the Millenium Bridge. My first screening was poorly attended, and I was late to the Q & A because my scrumptious dinner at a nearby restaurant was dragging on and on. I had forgotten to plan extra time for eating in Spain. But the Q & A the next day went well, even if the audience was once again small.
Besides seeing some good films such as the peculiar spanish film “La ciudad de los signos” by Samuel Alarcón (an intriguing and enjoyable detective-like homage to Roberto Rossellini), I also got a chance to take in some of Danish producer Lise Lense-Møller’s excellent master class on producing documentaries. She’s been in the business for quite a while, but really shot into the limelight this past year with the incredibly successful doc. “Burma VJ” from Anders Østergaard.
It was fun hanging out with other filmmakers from Canada, the US, France, Spain, Portugal, and Denmark, and dining in high style thanks to the credit cards the festival provided us for a wide range of restaurants. That’s a great idea I hope other festivals will adopt. But the highlight was definitely the party at the Outariz Thermal Baths. After a lovely buffet and drinks, we wandered off into an array of thermal baths of varying temperature, while a band played traditional Galician music to some funky projections on an outdoor movie screen. Heavenly!
The only odd thing about the whole festival was the virtual lack of an audience. I heard of long lines for some films and saw such photos in the newspapers, but all the filmmakers I met complained of having fewer than a dozen viewers at their screenings. Some shows were even cancelled because no one showed up. Hopefully the festival will find a way to better connect with the locals in the coming editions. That would make it into a really delightful regional event.