February 23 - March 11, 2001

The American Cinematheque Presents...

Recent Spanish Cinema: Featuring a Tribute to Ventura Pons

Presented in collaboration with:  the Ministerio de Educacion y Cultura, SGAE, Fundacin Autor, the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, ICEX - Instituto Espaol de Comercio Exterior, and the Instituto de la Mujer.


All films in Spanish with English subtitles, except films in the Ventura Pons Retrospective (in Catalan with English subtitles, except where noted.)

Series Compiled by Gwen Deglise and Dennis Bartok, with the special assistance of Cathy Rivera.

Shorts program compiled by Andrew P. Crane Special thanks to Hebe Tabachnik for translation services.

Special Thanks to: Juan Carlos Cuadros/FUNDACION AUTOR; Pilar Torre & Manuel Llamas/MINISTERIO DE EDUCACION Y CULTURA; Manuel Gutierrez Aragon/SGAE; Genaro Gonzalez/COMMERCIAL CONSUL OF SPAIN IN LOS ANGELES; Herminio Morales/CONSUL GENERAL OF SPAIN IN LOS ANGELES; Andres Vicente Gomez & Raquel Pedreira/LOLA FILMS; Angel Gil Orrios; Carmelo Romero.


Tickets available 30 days in advance.


SCHEDULE (by series)

SCHEDULE (by date)






The Cinematheque’s eighth annual survey of the wildest and most uncompromising new films from Spain leads off with the wonderful, humorous drama ANITA TAKES A CHANCE from featured director Ventura Pons, followed by actress-turned-director Laura Maa’s delicious first feature, COMPASSIONATE SEX. Spain’s most wildly talented young filmmaker, Alex de la Iglesia (DAY OF THE BEAST) returns with the box office hit LA COMUNIDAD, a jaw-dropping thriller starring the great Carmen Maura (WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN). The series also features a stunning range of emotional dramas (Jose Luis Garci’s YOU’RE THE ONE, Spain’s official submission for the Academy Awards; acclaimed director Jose Luis Borau’s LEO), erotic thrillers (Daniel Calparsoro’s ASFALTO), demented comedies and much more.

Ventura Pons Tribute

This year’s series features a tribute to one of Spain’s most acclaimed filmmakers, Ventura Pons, whose intimate, beautifully nuanced comedies and dramas – most set in his home town of Barcelona – explore the hidden dynamics of the relationships between men and women, men and men, women and women with the sensitivity, humor and color of Eric Rohmer and Max Ophls. "The nice thing about being independent is that you can be impulsive," Pons has said, and his best films, from the subversive drag-queen documentary OCAO, INTERMITTENT PORTRAIT to his dazzling, episodic films like CARESSES and WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?, are filled with a spontaneous sense of lives and lovers in collision. Born in Barcelona in 1945, Pons began his career in the theatre, and his stage background has shaped his career as a filmmaker, from stage-themed projects like ACTRESSES to his floating "stock company" of performers including Rosa Maria Sard, Merc Pons, Anna Lizaran and others. We’re very pleased to welcome director Ventura Pons to the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian for the first Los Angeles retrospective of his work!


For the third year in a row, we’re excited to be presenting the special Women In Spanish Cinema Showcase, highlighting the emerging generation of female directors and writers who are helping to reinvent Spanish filmmaking. In addition to Laura Maa’s COMPASSIONATE SEX, this year’s Showcase will also feature director Helena Taberna’s political drama YOYES, featuring a powerful performance from acclaimed actress Ana Torrent (THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, THESIS). We’re very pleased to welcome Laura Maa and Helena Taberna as our guests for this year’s Women in Spanish Cinema Showcase!

There will be a Special "Women In Spanish Cinema" Seminar, co-presented with the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America, on Sunday, February 25th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian. Admission free, seats available on a first come, first served basis the day of the event.


Friday, February 23 – 7:00 PM

Ventura Pons Retrospective -

Director Ventura Pons and Actress Maria Barranco In Person!!

ANITA TAKES A CHANCE (ANITA NO PERD EL TREN), 2000, 81 min. Ventura Pons' latest film is a tender comedy with an amazing performance by longtime collaborator Rosa Maria Sard. Anita (Sard) is forced into early retirement when the movie theatre where she worked as a cashier for the past 30 years is demolished. Every day, Anita goes back to the construction site to watch the demolition of her former home. Her gaze catches the muscular silhouette of a sexy young bulldozer driver (Jos Coronado). "Anita takes a chance," and the violence of an unexpected and secret erotic liaison brings back excitement to her life. Co-starring Mara Barranco (WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN). In Catalan with English subtitles. Discussion following with director Ventura Pons and actress Maria Barranco.


Friday, February 23 – 9:30 PM

Women In Spanish Cinema Showcase - Director Laura Maa In Person!!

COMPASSIONATE SEX (SEXO POR COMPASION), 2000, 107 min. Dir. Laura Maa.

A saint or a whore, and why not both? With this sweet comic fable the difference has never been so small. Dolores (Elisabeth Margoni) is left by her husband, Manolo (Jose Sancho) for being too virtuous and proper. Looking for a sin big enough to lure him back, the nave Dolores becomes "Lolita," the village whore. Miraculously, the men get their strength back and the village its lively color. A deliciously poetic and surprising first feature by actress Laura Maa, with a strong cast from both Spain and Mexico. Discussion following with director & screenwriter Laura Maa.


Saturday, February 24 – 5:00 PM

PELLET (EL BOLA), 2000, 88 min. An admirable and subtle first feature by director Achero Maas, PELLET is a powerful psychological portrait of teens and domestic violence. Pablo, nicknamed "El Bola" (Juan Jose Ballesta) finds a friend in his new classmate Alfredo (Pablo Galn). Alfredo's loving family is a welcome relief from Pablo’s abusive home life. On a trip to the mountains, Alfredo discovers bruises on his friend's back, setting off a heartwrenching chain reaction as Spain’s social system tries to cope with the problem of domestic violence. Director and screenwriter Maas explores the darkness of child abuse without a hint of clich or sentimentality in this somber, beautifully acted drama.


Saturday, February 24 – 7:30 PM

Director Alex de la Iglesia In Person!!

COMMON WEALTH (LA COMUNIDAD), 2000, Lola Films, 106 min. The director of DAY OF THE BEAST and DYING OF LAUGHTER, Alex de la Iglesia, returns with this nightmarish comic thriller about a tacky real estate agent, played by the fabulous Carmen Maura (WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN), who discovers $15 million in lottery winnings in the apartment of a dead man. Word soon leaks out, and the greedy association of neighbors circle like vultures, desperate to get their hands on the treasure. A brilliant, gothic thrill ride of a movie, featuring Maura’s best performance since WOMEN ON THE VERGE. "It could be a completely serious picture. It has moments of suspense, of terror, of action. But I can't help feeling an irresistible attraction for comedy." -- Alex de la Igelsia. Discussion following with director Alex de la Iglesia.


Saturday, February 24 – 10:15 PM

Director Imanol Uribe In Person!!

PLENILUNIO, 2000, 119 min. From one of Spain’s finest filmmakers, Imanol Uribe (DIAS CONTADOS), PLENILUNIO is a stunning psychological thriller in the vein of Fritz Lang’s classic "M", and a powerful portrait of damaged souls struggling to find themselves. An unhappily married detective (Miguel ngel Sol) is assigned to hunt down a child killer – his investigation leads him to the dead girl’s teacher, the lovely Adriana Ozores, recently separated from her own husband. Together, the two tentatively find love, while circling closer and closer to the sadistic killer (Juan Diego Boto). Beautifully scripted by noted writer Elvira Lindo (MANOLITO GAFOTAS), based on her husband Antonio Muoz Molina's novel. "The film is a reflection on horror and love, which sometimes co-exist so close to one another." -- Imanol Uribe. Discussion following with director Imanol Uribe.


Sunday, February 25 – 2:00 – 4:00 PM

"Women In Spanish Cinema Seminar" – Spielberg Theatre. FREE. American screenwriter Anna Thomas (EL NORTE, MI FAMILIA) and director Joan Teaksbury (THE ACORN PEOPLE) will participate in a discussion with Laura Mana and Helena Taberna.


Sunday, February 25 – 5:00 PM

Ventura Pons Tribute –

Director Ventura Pons In-Person!!

BELOVED/FRIEND (AMIC/AMAT), 1999, 90 min. Dir. Ventura Pons. A gay professor of medieval literature (Josep Maria Pou, in a remarkable performance) returns to Barcelona to die. As he reflects on his life and legacy, his thoughts turn to the two great loves of his life: his college friend (Mario Gas), now married with a grown-up daughter, and a nihilistic street hustler (David Selvas), who also happens to be the daughter’s lover. Co-starring Rosa Maria Sard (ANITA TAKES A CHANCE). "Pons’ best film, and one of the most beautiful and adult in Spanish cinema." – Marcos Ordez, Fotogramas. In Catalan with English subtitles. Discussion following with director Ventura Pons and actress Rosa Maria Sard.


Sunday, February 25 – 7:30 PM

Women In Spanish Cinema Showcase -- Director Helena Taberna In Person!!

YOYES, 1999, 104 min. The mesmerizing Ana Torrent (THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, THESIS) stars in this quietly shattering drama of political and personal allegiances. Based on the story of the first woman to hold a position of power in the militant Basque group E.T.A., YOYES follows the once-radical Torrent as she returns from exile in Mexico with a young child and a desire to start a new life – her comrades in the movement, though, insist that she return to the fold, in writer/director Helena Taberna’s uncompromising drama. Discussion following with director & screenwriter Helena Taberna.


Wednesday, February 28 – 7:00 PM

Ventura Pons Tribute:

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? (EL PORQUE DE LAS COSAS), 1994, 92 min. Dir. Ventura Pons. One of Pons’ most ambitious and consistently delightful films, WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT features 15 comic vignettes on modern morality, including "Competition," in which a man buys a telescope to spy on his next-door neighbor, and finds himself in an escalating sexual competition with her; "Willpower," where a man is determined to teach a stone to talk; "Desire," "Submission," "Jealousy" and more. Based on a collection of short stories by leading Catalan novelist Quim Monz. With Lluis Homar, Merc Pons, Anna Lizaran, Jordi Bosch, Slvia Munt. In Catalan with English subtitles.


Thursday, March 1 – 7:00 PM

MASTERPIECE (LA OBRA MAESTRA), 2000, 115 min. Dir. David Trueba.

John Waters’ CECIL B. DEMENTED meets Almodovar's ATAME! in this gonzo comedy of a famous, drug addicted actress (Ariadna Gil) who is kidnapped by two retarded film buffs, Benito (Santiago Segura, from TORRENTE – THE DUMB ARM OF THE LAW) and Carolo (Pablo Carbonell), to act in their super 8 mm. film masterpiece. David Trueba's second feature is a wickedly funny homage to the horrors of filmmaking.


Thursday, March 1 – 9:30 PM

Ventura Pons Tribute:

ACTRESSES (ACTRIUS), 1997, 100 min. Dir. Ventura Pons. Shamelessly manipulative (and damn near irresistible), ACTRESSES is a beautifully crafted tearjerker in the vein of ALL ABOUT EVE. A young actress (Merc Pons) researching to play the role of legendary star "Empar Ribera" winds up interviewing three of Ribera’s surviving friends: an equally-legendary theatre diva, a successful (but bitter) TV comedienne, and a soft-spoken dubbing actress. Nria Espert, Rosa Maria Sard and Anna Lizaran star as the three long-time friends who (of course) have their own grudges to resolve, with each other and with the long-dead Ribera. In Catalan with English subtitles.


Friday, March 2 – 7:00 PM

YOU’RE THE ONE – A STORY OF THE PAST (UNA HISTORIA DE ENTONCES), 2000, 111 min. Spain’s official submission for the 2000 Academy Awards, YOU’RE THE ONE is acclaimed director Jos Luis Garci’s homage to classic Hollywood melodramas of the 1940’s: a Barbara Stanwyck-like blonde, Julia (Lydia Bosch) retires to a remote country village to cope with her anguish at the imprisonment of her lover, a painter and political rebel. The remarkable friendship and resilient humor of the local people give Julia the strength to face the death of her lover, and go on with her life.


Friday, March 2 – 9:30 PM

KASBAH, 2000, 99 min. The latest feature from acclaimed young filmmaker Mariano Barroso (EXTASIS) is his best to date, a road movie/thriller set in the steamy kasbahs of Morocco. Ernesto Alterio stars as Mario, an expatriate Spaniard working for his father in Morocco, when he’s saddled with chaperoning a half-sister he’s never met (flirtatious teen star Elena Ballesteros). When his sister disappears, possibly murdered or kidnapped, Mario finds himself the target of the police, his father and a vengeful ex-Foreign Legionnaire hired to bring the girl home.


Saturday, March 3 – 6:00 PM

LEO, 2000, 86 min. From master director Jos Luis Borau (subject of a 1998 Cinematheque retrospective), LEO is a beautifully acted, grimly realistic portrait of Madrid’s forgotten underclass. Noted actress Iciar Bollan (star of Borau’s NIO NADIE) delivers a haunting performance as Leo, a homeless woman with a tormented past and a terrible secret to keep, who draws a sympathetic security guard (Javier Batanero) into a plot to take revenge on the man who abused her years earlier.


Saturday, March 3 – 8:30 PM

ASFALTO, 2000, 90 min. Jarring, brilliantly directed crime film/love triangle, a kind of Spanish version of Godard’s BAND OF OUTSIDERS, from wildly talented young director Daniel Calparsoro (whose first film, JUMP INTO THE VOID, was featured in our 1996 series.) The gorgeous Najwa Nimri (OPEN YOUR EYES, LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE) stars as a thrill-seeking young woman caught in a criminal and sexual liaison with two petty thieves (Juan Diego Botto and Gustavo Salmern). "I'm telling a love story as one could tell a holdup." -- Daniel Calparsoro.


Sunday, March 4 – 5:00 PM

THE BACK OF THE WORLD (LA ESPALDA DEL MUNDO), 2000, 89 min. Dir. Javier Corcuera.

Winner of the International Critics Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival, THE BACK OF THE WORLD is a disturbing, inescapable documentary about the ways in which societies literally crush their own citizens into submission. Told in three parts, focusing on child exploitation, political imprisonment and capital punishment, the film follows an 11-year old Peruvian boy in Lima, a Kurdish refugee whose wife is in a Turkish jail on trumped-up charges, and a Texas death row inmate whose execution has been delayed 11 times.


Sunday, March 4 – 7:15 PM

FRIENDS HAVE REASONS (LAS RAZONES DE MIS AMIGOS), 2000, 85 min. From producer-turned-director Gerardo Herrero (COMANCHE TERRITORY), FRIENDS HAVE REASONS is a subtle, adult drama about the effect money has on long-term friendships. A cash-strapped computer entrepreneur, Carlos (Sergi Calleja) asks his two college friends (Marta Belaustegui and Joel Joan) for a loan one night at their monthly get-together. They quickly agree, but as the months go by and Carlos is still unable to repay the loan, the seemingly unshakable friendships start to bend and then crack under the strain. Written by Angeles Gonzlez-Sinde (SECOND SKIN).


Wednesday, March 7 – 7:00 PM


Miguel Diez Lasangre’s "Animal" (9 min.) Award- winning animated short about a man’s dream of a Stone Age hunting ritual. Ramon Salazar’s "Fungi" (Hongos) (20 min.) A riotous look at one woman’s reaction when realizing she accidentally slept with her ex-boyfriend. Our star, Monica Cervera, is a dead ringer for one of Almodovar’s early heroines. David Pujol’s "Stockholm" (15 min.) A remarkable journey about a good deed and the price paid for that deed. Ane Munoz Mitxelena’s "El Pan De Cada Dia" (Daily Bread) (11min.) A very black tale of a woman, for whom time has stopped. Alber Pontes "Una Luz Encendida" (A Light in the Sunrise) (22 min.) A mature look at a couple's faltering marriage and the surprise that changes them forever. Antonio Hen’s "En Malas Companias" (Doors Cut Down) (17 min.) A teenage boy cruises his town with a vengeance. A hit at Outfest.


Friday, March 9 – 7:00 PM

WHAT YOU NEVER KNEW (AUNQUE TU NO LO SEPAS), 2000, 119 min. Dir. Juan Vicente Cordoba. An elegant and nostalgic love story, reminiscent of Krzysztof Kieslowski's "A Short Film About Love": Lucia (Silvia Munt) has just moved back to the flat where she grew up, and recognizes Juan (Gary Piquer), the neighbor who used to watch her through binoculars when they were teenagers. Now in their 40's, the memory of their aborted love hasn’t faded, and Lucia looks for every way to revive the old feelings.


Friday, March 9 – 9:30 PM

Ventura Pons Tribute – Double-Feature:


Pons’ first film is also one of his most notorious (and popular), a brilliantly funny, no-holds-barred documentary on one of Barcelona’s most outrageous drag queens, Ocaa, a flamenco diva/painter/performance artist who somehow managed to survive the ultra-repressive Franco years to emerge like some strange and wonderful exotic flower. A companion piece to subversive, post-Franco features like Aranda’s CAMBIO DE SEXO and Almodovar’s PEPI, LUCI, BOM. In SPanish with English subtitles.

THE BLONDE AT THE BAR (LA ROSSA DEL BAR), 1986, 90 min. Dir. Ventura Pons. Gay pimps, upwardly-mobile hookers and pornographic photo-novels: BLONDE AT THE BAR has it all! Pons’ deliriously un-hinged comedy of Barcelona low-lifes stars Enric Maj as a married businessman who falls under the spell of an ambitious prostitute (Nria Hosta) and her pimp Ortega (Romancn), who has a taste for young Arab boys. In Catalan with English subtitles.



Saturday, March 10th
2 - 3:00pm at the Brentano's in Century City

This Event is Free & Open to the Public

Academy Award Nominee Javier Bardem will sign Before Night Falls, the extraordinary memoir by visionary Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, which served as the basis for the award-winning film of the same title. The Fine Line Features film, Before Night Falls chronicles the turbulent life and career of the great Latin American writer, Reinaldo Arenas.  The film, which was beautifully directed by Julian Schnabel, won the Jury Grand
Prize at the Venice International Film Festival.  Javier Bardem, with 16 films to his credit, has achieved stunning international acclaim throughout the last decade.  His portrayal of Reinaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls won him the Best Actor Award (Volpi Cup) at the Venice Film Festival and has earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Brentano's Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067
Telephone:  310-785-0204 / Fax:  310-785-0309

Saturday, March 10 – 6:00 PM

TO DIE (OR NOT) - MORIR (O NO), 1999, 92 min. Dir. Ventura Pons. In the style of his earlier hits WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? and CARESSES, TO DIE (OR NOT) is a poignant, at times wickedly funny look at seven characters, who may (or may not) be on the verge of dying – a hospital patient unable to reach the alarm button, a business executive targeted by a hit man, a movie director suffering from mental and creative exhaustion, and more. With Lluis Homar, Anna Lizaran, Merc Pons, Sergi Lpez. In Catalan with English subtitles.


Saturday, March 10 – 8:30 PM

I KNOW WHO YOU ARE (S QUIN ERES), 2000, 100 min. Paloma (Ana Fernndez), a psychoanalyst recently attached to a mental institution in Galicia, becomes fascinated by one of her patients, Mario (Miguel Angel Sol), suffering from Korsakof's Syndrome – a sudden loss of short-term memory. Attempting to cure him, the analyst uses isolation, heavy drugs, and even sex to shock his memory back – she succeeds only too well, unleashing his repressed memories of a dark and murderous past. A tense, erotic thriller from first time director Patricia Ferreira.


Sunday, March 11 – 5:00 PM

REGARDING BUUEL (A PROPOSITO DE BUUEL), 2000, 90 min. From Jose Luis Lopez-Linares and Javier Rioyo, the co-directors of ASSAULT THE SKIES (featured in our 1997 series), REGARDING BUUEL is a revealing, beautifully fractured portrait of Spain’s most acclaimed (and reviled) filmmaker, a master of the surreal and grotesque, told in archival photos, film clips and interviews with Buuel’s surviving friends and colleagues.


Sunday, March 11 – 7:30 PM

Ventura Pons Tribute:

CARESSES (CARICIAS), 1997, 104 min. Dir. Ventura Pons. Our series ends with Pons’ restless, erotically charged series of 11 episodes, revolving around characters both straight and gay as they sexually (and emotionally) explore, abuse, dominate and submit to one another over the course of one long night in Barcelona. Hailed as one of the 10 Best Films of 1998 by the Village Voice’s Elliot Stein. With David Selvas, Sergi Lpez, Merc Pons, Roger Coma, Rosa Maria Sard.


Just Added! Not on our Printed Schedule!! Tickets available Now at the Box Office! Not sold-out as of 3/2.


While it may seem to American audiences that he is an overnight sensation, Spanish actor Javier Bardem has sizzled on screen for more than a decade under the direction of some of Spain’s most bardeminfront.jpg (52865 bytes)talented contemporary directors. Bardem’s Spanish films – LIVE FLESH, made with Pedro Almodvar, JAMON JAMON (co-starring Penelop Cruz) from director Bigas Luna and many others have been screening at the American Cinematheque over the past eight years as part of our popular annual RECENT SPANISH CINEMA showcase. With nearly 20 films under his belt, Bardem was only known in the U.S. for his roles in JAMON JAMON and BOCA A BOCA (MOUTH TO MOUTH), prior to his astounding performance in BEFORE NIGHT FALLS (Fine Line) -- the role that earned him an Academy Award nomination. Bardem is a combination of leading man and talented character actor. He moves effortlessly between drama and outrageous comedy – from sympathetic characters to slime balls – and from gay roles to portrayals of the men who put the "cheese" in machismo. No matter what the role, he gives his characters a rare level of depth and intensity. We are pleased to welcome the extremely talented Javier Bardem to the Egyptian Theatre to discuss his work in the context of this mini-retrospective. He will also appear with BEFORE NIGHT FALLS for which he is nominated for the BEST ACTOR OSCAR.

Monday, March 12 - 7:00 PM

Javier Bardem In Person to Introduce the Screening!

*ECSTASY (EXTASIS) 1995, 93 min. Director Mariano Boroson. Javier Bardem, Spain's most explosive actor, stars in this rich, seductive drama with Shakespearean overtones. A young hustler seizes a golden opportunity when he successfully impersonates the lost son of a famous theater director (played by the great Federico Luppi). The pairing of Luppi and Bardem, each seduced by the other's charm, is pure screen magic. In Spanish with English subtitles.


Monday, March 12 - 9:30 PM

*GOLDEN BALLS (HUEVOS DE ORO) 1992, 92 min. From the director of JAMON JAMON, THE TIT AND THE MOON and THE CHAMBERMAID ON THE TITANIC, comes this ferocious comedy of food, sex, surrealism and real estate speculation. Benito (Javier Bardem) is an ultra-macho laborer who rises to wealth, taking several different women along for the ride. Luna's caustic portrait of kitsch and the newly rich has something to offend everyone. Benecio Del Toro plays Benito's friend in Miami.  "The sex is delicious, over-the-top and often funny... Luna drives the story forward with such velocity that nine years pass in the blink of an eye." -- F.X. Feeney, LA WEEKLY. In Spanish with English subtitles.


Wednesday, March 14 - 7:00 PM

Javier Bardem In Person!

BEFORE NIGHT FALLS, 2000, 133 min. Directed by Julian Schnabel. Bardem earned an Academy Award nomination for his heart wrenching portrayal of gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, who was imprisoned by bardem.gif (41613 bytes)the Castro regime in 1973. After tremendous hardship, he finally was able to come to America in 1980, only to die tragically of AIDS 10 years later in New York City. Javier Bardem's ("Jamon, Jamon," "Live Flesh") incredible performance has already been lauded worldwide -- he won a Best Actor prize at this year's Venice Film Festival, while Schnabel took home a special Grand Jury Prize. Bardem will appear for discussion following the film.

Photo: Juan Tallo-Tullo