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The second edition of the Amsterdam Spanish Film Festival kicked off yesterday, bringing the best of Spanish cinema to the international circuit. Organized by Sin Fin Cinema, a platform of distribution and exhibition of independent cinema, the festival will offer a glimpse of what Spain is doing nowadays in the world of celluloid. For five days, and in two different locations, attendees will be able to watch films such as La Novia, Ma Ma or Nadie quiere la noche. Besides, the festival includes some complementary sections: Latin cinema, experimental movies and a rediscovery of great Spanish classics. We talk to the Virgina Pablos to get to know more about it. 
How was the idea of creating a Spanish cinema festival in other European cities born? 
It was born out of the necessity of expanding the Spanish cinema in the international circuit, in this case in Holland. We first tried with a little project called The Spanish Film of the Month, which consisted in premiering a Spanish and/or Latin-American film every month in different movie theaters. Most of the projections included a meeting with the director or part of the cast, followed by our now-famous Spanish wine Hacienda Zorita. The theaters were always full of people. That’s when I realized how interested Hollands are in regards of Spain, and how cinema can be the perfect tool to connect with the country. On the other hand, we also cover the need of the Spanish expats of watching cinema in their own language.
What are the difficulties of these kinds of initiatives, and what can be achieved through them?
The difficulties are always related to the fundings. You achieve perseverance. When the first day of the festival finally arrives, and 700 people are attending it, you feel the energy of the public to get into the experience and watch our cinema – that energy makes it all worthy. After the big fights and the madness of organizing it, you’re already looking forward to the next edition, and you forget about the stress and the ridiculous amount of work. A lot of passion is needed to do this, and that’s 50% of the budget.
It’s been said that Spanish people despise their own cinema, although it has a really warm welcome in international areas. Do you agree?
It seems like it’s cool to say “Spanish cinema is shite.” I get really angry, because most of the time that’s said by people who hasn’t even watched 20% of the Spanish productions that have been made that year. There’s still a lot of work to be done in order to change people’s opinion, and that’s where our responsibility lies.
It’s frustrating to see how many Spanish directors, for instance Albert Serra, are more recognized outdoors than indoors. In Spain, a movie is successful when it’s comercial. There are really small-minded mentalities that don’t let our cinema breath.But then comes Oliver Laxe and he gets the award of the critic in Cannes for his wonderful film Las Mimosas. And Juanjo Jiménez with the Palme d’Or for the best short film, and you are like “yay!”
It’s also been said the Spanish cinema doesn’t take risks in terms of new talents, approaches and formats. What’s your opinion?
I disagree. In Spain there’s a really interesting scene of heterodox cinema. And they take risks, of course! Brave filmmakers, fearless, who don’t want to follow the rules of traditional cinema, who’d rather make the cinema they want instead of that the box office demands. The economic crisis has given us this double-sided reality. The lack of funds and the scarcity have led many filmmakers to new narratives, formats and very interesting approaches: essay, diaries, archives compilation, romantic documentary…
From my point of view, there are renewed hopes, a better future for the vanguards and the experimental cinema in Spain. A cinema that takes risks, auto-managed and brave, beyond the system. We see how more and more Spanish filmmakers are playing and experimenting with found materials, archive images, analogue photography techniques, while also manipulating all cinematographic genres and reinventing them. 
Regarding this new edition, what are the hopes?
With this second edition we expect to consolidate the festival, becoming a reference in Holland. We want to become a platform for the development of new channels of exhibition and distribution, helping Spanish movies to reach new audiences and territories.

Aida Belmonte
Cecilia Díaz Betz

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