‘Concrete Utopia’ the South-Korean film candidate for the Oscars, puts an end to the competitition in the Sección Oficial (Official Section)

A Monday with full screenings of national films at the 33rd Fancine. The Fantastic Film Festival of the University of Malaga has kicked off the week with a program of Spanish films that managed to sell out all the available tickets for two different screenings.

One of them was ‘La espera’, competing in this year’s edition. The director from Córdoba, F. Javier Gutiérrez, was in charge of welcoming the crowded Screen 1 of the Albéniz, in a presentation where he defined his recent work as a “slow-burn thriller.” Set in the Andalusian highlands in the 1980s, Víctor Clavijo portrays a farm guard who accepts a bribe from a hunter, unaware that by doing so he will begin a macabre descent into hell where guilt will be his worst enemy. The director has confessed his joy at participating in the Sección Oficial (Official Section) of Fancine: “I live halfway between Los Angeles and Spain, but Málaga is very special for me. It’s my second home”, he shared with the audience. Gutiérrez was accompanied by actor Antonio Estrada and young actor Moisés Ruiz from Málaga, who at only thirteen already knows what is like to take on a role in front of the big screen. The debutant actor encouraged the audience to enjoy the film before it was screened: “I hope you get a bit scared”, he said shyly.

In the subsequent screening, the director spoke of the violent nature of the film, especially influenced by all his memories of his childhood in the Andalusian countryside. In addition, he shared a story involving Denzel Washington, who, after encountering each other several times in the same offices, asked him about this project and encouraged him to carry it out, under the “threat” of putting him on a plane back to Spain if he didn’t keep his word.

At 9:30 p.m., the screening of ‘La mesaita del comedor’ in Screen 3 was also at its full capacity, this being the third film to be screened as part of the Fantástico Nacional (Fantastic National). Starring David Pareja and Estefanía de los Santos, the film introduces us a married couple about to become parents who are not going through their very best moment in their relationship. However, neither of them expect that the purchase of a piece of furniture will become the worst decision of their lives. The director Caye Casos was present at the screening, grateful for the way he could make his film known in Malaga. Before the colloquium, the Catalan director said that they arrived to Fancine after winning several awards at different international events. Even so, he wanted to warn the audience: “You are not ready to watch the film. Normally, people go to the cinema to have a good time, but not with ‘La mesaita del comedor’. It’s only suitable for thrill-seeking people”, he joked.

At the same time, the competitive section came to an end with the screening of ‘Concrete Utopia’, a South Korean production selected as candidate for the best international film at the Oscar Awards 2024. The plot, very much in line with the theme of the 33rd anniversary of the festival (dedicated to houses under the slogan “Home Sweet Home”), takes us to a Seoul devastated by an earthquake where only one building is left standing. The inhabitants barricade themselves to protect the little they have left and to prevent at all costs the survivors from outside from gaining access to the inside. With this film, the audience’s votes also come to an end, with those votes awarding the audience prize.

Near Alcazabilla Street, in the Rectorate, the screening of films from Malaga continues with the premiere of the Fantástico Local (Fantastic Local) section, which brought together the screening of two projects with a Malaga stamp at the university headquarters. The first one was the short film ‘Holter’, where a routine medical test triggers a strange reaction in the protagonist of the story, leading him on a surreal journey into the unknown. Veteran actor Lucio Romero gives life to the main character of the film, based on his real life experiences and directed by José Carlos. At the end of the film, both were able to chat with the public about the real event that inspired this story, during which Romero reminded the audience that he is still the oldest active actor in Spain. And to call it a day we had the screening of ‘The Three Parts of the Mirror’, by director Leví Star about a desperate mother, a man addicted to trouble and a singer with no future who all struggle to find a bag of money. The director stressed the importance of paying attention to the double and triple meanings of the film’s scenes, which aims to “leave a legacy”.

What’s more, this Monday, as part of the parallel activities of Fancine, the “Málaga Misteriosa” (Mysterious Malaga) route, where the guides of Má along with some thirty participants, toured the most peculiar hidden places of the capital. During one afternoon, the streets of the historic centre were turned into real film sets of dark and fantastic stories that took place not so long ago. One of the most peculiar stories related to cinema is the imprisonment of Frank Sinatra in Málaga when he travelled to film a Western in the desert of Tabernas (Almería). The actor and singer, who was staying in Torremolinos, insulted Franco when he saw a photograph of him, for which he spent three nights in jail. This and other disturbing stories already part of Malaga’s popular culture left the audience amazed.

Lastly, CyberCamp-UMA as part of the program’s activities and the Cybersecurity Cineforum organised by NICS Lab took place at the Contenedor Cultural. As part of this event, the film ‘Hackers’ was screened, with a subsequent debate about the challenges of capturing the complexity of the digital word and its intersection with security and privacy in an audio-visual context.

Thursday 14th November program

Once again, short films will take over Fancine Thursday’s program. After the competition, it will be turn for the short-film competition, where more than twenty productions will be screened to fight for the top prize in the real image and animation categories. In addition, ‘Pandemonium’ will be screened with the presence of its director, while the Rectorate will hold the second event of the Fantástico Local, this time with a double screening: ‘Chavales’ and ‘2075’.