Posted on October 20th, 2018
A review of ‘Pedro Almodóvar Day’
By Julia Mackay, Modern Languages’ student at the University of Exeter
Having recently returned from a year abroad in Spain, I was excited to be presented with the chance to go to a Spanish film day as part of Chagford Film Festival on my first week back at university in Exeter.
On 25th September, myself and other Spanish students travelled to Chagford in Dartmoor to attend one day of the festival, to watch three of Pedro Almodóvar’s films: Todo Sobre mi Madre (All About my Mother, 1999), Julieta (2016) and Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988).
As students of Professor Sally Faulkner’s and Dr Guillem Colom-Montero’s “Almodovar’s cinema” module this year, the trip provided the perfect introduction to studying and analysing Almodovar’s films.
The Pedro Almodóvar Day of the festival took place on Almodóvar’s 69th birthday. This was marked with a paella dinner and an outstanding birthday cake! Each film was introduced by our course lecturers and by Rachel Beaney, a PhD student of Spanish cinema. This was helpful in pointing out interesting elements to watch out for in the film. At the end of each film, there was a Q&A session where the audience had the chance to ask the Exeter staff/Almodóvar experts (!) any questions.
What started as a roomful of nervous students trying to avoid eye contact with their lecturers slowly evolved into an interesting discussion. Members of the public also contributed great ideas. We covered topics such as Almodóvar’s personal influences, his use of cinematic techniques and the strong presence of female characters in the films.
The breaks between films gave us the chance to get to know other students of the module, our course lecturers and other attendees of the festival. GCSE and A-Level Spanish students from Newton Abbot College were also invited, so that they could experience watching a Spanish film as well as talk to university students about learning Spanish beyond school and studying or working abroad.
I think the event was a wonderful celebration of Almodóvar’s films from an academic perspective, but also for people who just enjoy film and Spanish culture. It was a great way for different members of the community, of different ages, to come together and socialise and engage with the films.
I am sure that this experience will help with my further studies on this module as well as providing a fun and memorable day. I am grateful to everyone who made the event possible.