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Culture fact
Filming for The Official Story
began in 1983, the year that the
military dictatorship ended in
Argentina. After the actors and
director received threats, it was
announced that production had
ceased. However, filming
continued in secrecy
until 1985, the year in
which it was released.


















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BROWSE SPANISH FILMS: Contemporary Spanish films: ALPHABETICAL INDEX - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 | New releases | Spanish-language film collections | Spanish & Latin American film directors | Spanish & Latin American actors & actresses | Books about Spanish language cinema

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Spanish-language films on DVD & Video 7



The Official Story / La historia oficial




Drama (1985)
Argentina
1985 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film
Director: Luis Puenzo
Starring: Héctor Alterio, Norma Aleandro
Review: This is one of those rare political films that transcend politics with a stirring emotional story. Argentinean first-time director Luis Puenzo tells the story of a strong-willed teacher who tries to learn the true identity of her adopted daughter's father, coming to suspect that he was a political prisoner. Her political awakening is actually an emotional one as well because of her detached persona. Ironically, even though she is a teacher, she doesn't connect with people very well, thinking of history in the most abstract terms. But she learns the painful truth of present-day life. Tautly directed by Puenzo, The Official Story was a 1985 Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Film, with a riveting performance by Norma Aleandro.
Review by Bill Desowitz
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Vampires in Havana / ¡Vampiros en la Habana!
 

Animation / Comedy (1985)
Cuba / Spain
Director: Juan Padrón
Starring: Manuel Marín, Frank González
Review: The third feature by Cuban director Juan Padrón, Vampires in Havana (1985) is a silly, raunchy spoof of horror and gangster films. Wolfgang Amadeus von Dracula, the nephew of the famous count, invents a formula that allows vampires to endure sunlight--which he tests on his nephew Joseph "Pepe" Emmanuel. It works so well that Pepe is completely unaware of his true nature; he plays jazz trumpet in a nightclub and joins a cell plotting to overthrow a repressive general. Pepe soon finds himself dodging the general's inept henchmen and rival vampire syndicates who want the valuable formula. Drawn in a simple, cartoony style that suggests a cross between the work of Zagrebfilm and the Mad Magazine cartoons of Sergio Aragones, Vampires in Havana offers American audiences a rare glimpse of the work of one of Cuba's leading animators. Unrated; suitable for ages 16 and up: Nudity, sexual humor, profanity, violence, ethnic stereotypes.
Review by Charles Solomon
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Nobody Listened / Nadie eschuchaba
 

Documentary (1985)
USA
Directors: Néstor Almendros, Jorge Ulla
Description: Fidel Castro is undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures of the last 100 years. From the era of Eisenhower to that of George W. Bush, Castro has ruled Cuba and maintained extraordinary world attention. Nobody Listened reveals Castro’s brutal methods for sustaining his longevity, and forces us to listen closely to accounts rarely taken seriously before. Former Castro comrades, life-long Communist party leaders, writers, and intellectuals – as well as unrepentant supporters of fallen dictator Fulgencio Batista – appear and testify in gripping detail about the seedy underbelly of Cuba's police state. Nobody Listened is a burning polemic with style to spare. Co-directed by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Néstor Almendros (Days of Heaven, The Last Metro), Nobody Listened whirls about and makes its points with style, verve, and wit. It is a story no one can afford to miss. This first-ever DVD release includes a special update, created specifically for this edition by co-director Jorge Ulla.
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Camila
 

Drama / History (1984)
Argentina / Spain
Director: María Luisa Bemberg
Starring: Susú Pecoraro, Imanol Arias
Synopsis: In 1840's Buenos Aires, Argentina, a beautiful young socialite named Camila falls in love with Ladislao, a Jesuit priest. After several failed attempts at fighting his own feelings, he ultimately succumbs to her. The two later escape to a far off, secluded village where they assume new identities as husband and wife and begin running a children's school. After several months of relative happiness, the couple's true identity is discovered by a local priest. Under moralistic pressure from both Camila's family and the Catholic church the authorities apprehend the lovers and imprison them for sacrilege.
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What Have I Done to Deserve This? / Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!!
 

Comedy (1984)
Spain
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Carmen Maura, Luis Hostalot, Ryo Hiruma
Review: Pedro Almodóvar scored his first international hit with What Have I Done to Deserve This?, cementing his reputation as Spain's bad-boy director of darkly comedic melodramas. Many of the themes that dominate Almodóvar's later films are evident here, especially his sympathetic affection for downtrodden women like Gloria (Carmen Maura), an exhausted housewife who is addicted to No-Doz and spends 18-hour days cleaning apartments and tending (just barely) to her teenage sons (one deals drugs, the other offers sex to local perverts), neglectful husband, and looney-tunes mother-in-law--all of whom have a particular knack for getting on her nerves. Toss in a prostitute neighbor, an accidental murder, and a pet lizard named "Money," and you've got the makings of a soap opera by way of Luis Buñuel and John Waters, served up with Almodóvar's distinctive blend of compassionate humanity and kinky outrageousness.
Review by Jeff Shannon
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Alucarda / Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas
 

Horror / Thriller (1978)
Mexico
Director: Juan López Moctezuma
Starring: Claudio Brook, David Silva, Tina Romero
Description: Directed in Mexico in 1975 by Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo) and collaborator Juan López Moctezuma, Alucarda is a gruesome occult film that tells the tale of the strange relationship between two young girls, Justine and Alucarda, who happen to be witches. The film documents how their relationship destroys the lives of those around them in a torrent of blood, death, and damnation. This legendary horror film - which was thought lost until a negative of the movie was discovered -- contains images that will shock and disturb.
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Chac: The Rain God / Chac: Dios de la lluvia
 

Drama (1975)
Mexico / Panama
Director: Rolando Klein
Starring: Pablo Canche Balam, Alonzo Mendez Ton
Description: A cult film from the 1970s, lost for years and now newly restored, Chac: The Rain God is based on ritual and legends from the Popul Vuh. This gorgeous film, shot in the Chiapas region of Mexico by Chilean director Rolando Klein, focuses on a small Tzeltal village during a terrible drought. Desperate for relief, thirteen men set out on a quest to save their people from starvation with a Diviner who takes them far from their own land on a strange journey. Chac is magical, mystical and intensely visual. A dazzling portrait of a Native American spiritual quest, Chac is a visionary masterpiece as powerful and revolutionary as Walkabout, El Topo and Aguirre: The Wrath of God.
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Spirit of the Beehive / El espíritu de la colmena


Drama (1973)
Spain
Director: Víctor Erice
Starring: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Teresa Gimpera
Description: Made under the Franco regime, Victor Erice’s astonishing 1973 feature debut is quite simply one of the most remarkable, influential and purely poignant films to emerge from the 1970s. A bona fide classic of European cinema, the film brought Erice instant and widespread acclaim. An audacious critique of the disastrous legacy of the Spanish Civil War, The Spirit of the Beehive is set in a rural 1940s Spanish village haunted by betrayal and regret. Following a travelling cinema’s screening of James Whale’s Frankenstein, seven year old Ana (a mesmerizing Ana Torrent, later to grow into an international star of some standing) becomes fascinated with Boris Karloff’s monster. Obsessed with meeting the initially gentle creation, she transfers her entracement to a wounded army deserter.
Atmospherically rendered by legendary Director of Photography Luis Cuadrado, it’s impeccably performed by both Torrent and veteran actor Fernando Fernan Gomez in the role of her emotionally scarred, bee-keeping father. Existing in a highly evocative dreamlike state, it’s a powerfully symbolic, richly allegorical tale that is as unique as it is beautiful.
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Kaliman / Kalimán, el hombre increíble


Action / Fantasy / Science Fiction (1972)
Mexico
Director: Alberto Mariscal
Starring: Jeff Cooper, Nino Del Arco, Susana Dosamantes
Description: Upon his arrival in Rio De Janeiro to attend a convention on parapsychology, The Incredible Kaliman and his inseparable assistant Solin become involved in a chilling adventure in the treacherous Brazilian Amazon jungle. The merciless Humanon has created a fantastic laboratory where he performs the most macabre genetic transformation. Kaliman must use his telepathic ability and physical dexterity to rescue the beautiful Guarina and a group of scientists before they are mutilated by Humanon.
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