A dazzling flash like an interstellar billboard, out there in the middle of the ocean, in the summer night, at the end of the night at the end of the summer, the dry glow of the embers of a cigarette. The embers flare up, then go out, then flare up again brightly on the bow of the zodiac. She smokes and talks at the same time, alone. Then she calls someone on her mobile phone. After a few minutes she throws the cigarette into the water. It sinks with a crackle. Just below the Boreal. There’s a lime-green reflection on the sea of acid, it’s five in the morning, that very bad toll hour on the other side.
An electronic heaven.
Letters: red. Square: Benidorm.
So begins Spanish Beauty (Anagrama), the pitch-black thriller by Esther García Llovet set in the city of Alicante and starring Michela, a shady National Policewoman with a strong cockney accent. Several critics have highlighted the cinematographic capacity of this novel and have even drawn parallels with the language of Tarantino’s films. It is clear that its particular vision of the world, its rhythm and its singular and sharp writing make it an easy leap to the screen. It is not yet a film or a TV series, but time will tell.
Since 2006, the Berlin Film Festival, which this year took place from 10 to 20 February, has been holding the Books at Berlinale meeting as part of the Co-production Market with the aim of promoting collaboration between the film and book industries. These meetings are held in cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair, which on this occasion has received special support from Spain as the fair’s Guest of Honour. It is a space where film producers can make contact with film rights holders, publishers and literary agents of books that are particularly suitable for adaptation. This year’s event broke records with 200 book candidates from more than 30 countries, but only 10 were chosen.
On Monday 14 February, from 15:00 to 16:30, the selected novels were presented and among them, of course, was our Spanish Beauty. This is not the first time that a Spanish author has been among those chosen. Laia Fàbregas has already made it in 2008 with La niña de los nueve dedos, Lucía Etxebarria in 2011 with Lo verdadero es un momento de lo falso, Cristina Campos with Pan de limón con semillas de amapola in 2016 and three years later, Blue Jeans with La chica invisible.
During the event, the director general of Books and Reading Promotion, María José Gálvez, presented an appetizer of the #SpillingCreativity that our literature will display in October at the Frankfurt Book Fair. We don’t just want to focus on literature and books, our entire culture is overflowing,” she said. When we took over from Canada as Guest of Honour last October, it was the start of a long road that will lead us to be present at many of the cultural events in Germany this year. The aim: “To show that we are a beautiful country, but also a very professional one. We want to visualise the strength of our publishing sector and its capacity for innovation, but also its literary quality,” he concluded.
The following day, on 15 February, online sessions were held that “matched” representatives of the books and film producers.
García Llovet was not the only Spaniard “present” at the 72nd Berlinale. The Catalan filmmaker Carla Simón was the big star of the film event. Her film Alcarràs won the Golden Bear, the highest award. A prize that our cinema had not won for almost 40 years and the first that a Spanish director has won at a “major” festival. Simón’s career to triumph began at this festival, in February 2017, when Verano 1993 won Best First Film and Best Feature Film in the Generation Kplus section, before going on to win three Goyas: Best New Director, Best New Actress and Best Supporting Actor.
There was another Spaniard in the fight for the top category. Isaki Lacuesta premiered in the Official Selection Un año, una noche (One Year, One Night), an adaptation of the book Paz, amor y death metal (Peace, Love and Death Metal) by Ramón González. This is the third time in the history of the event that two Spanish films have competed to win at one of the most important film festivals in the world.
The first major European competition of the year had other national protagonists. Galician director Lois Patiño’s short film El sembrador de estrellas was chosen by the Berlinale as a candidate for the European Film Awards. Gerard Ortín’s Agrilogistics competed in the same category. Cinco lobitos, by Alauda Ruiz de Azúa, competed for the GWFF Best First Feature Award, reserved for the best first feature.
The Berlinale Talents, which promotes young professionals working in the film industry, included Javier Bermejo, Mariona Borrull, Manel Raga, Marta Cruañas, Alberto Torres, Meritxell Colell, Nuria Landete, Sandra Romero, Bruna Cusí, María del Puy Alvarado and Alejandro Loayza. They were the ones chosen to participate in this event that brought together digitally, we are still in pandemic, 200 talents from 70 different countries so that they could present their projects and continue their training.
In short, the Berlinale marks the kick-off of Spain’s year as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, highlighting the fact that our culture has a lot of #OverflowingCreativity to show.