Ready for a brand new edition –the 6th!– of the Minipop music festival? The main festival in the country for the whole family kicks off this evening. And, as in previous editions, Minipop is packed with activities: cinema, theatre, dance, literature, a baby area, minicrafts, food and, above all, an excellent music line-up.
Local Spy Light will have the honour to open the great selection of concerts, today at 6pm, with a rock style that evokes music groups such as The Zeppelin, Emerson, Lake & Palmer or the white blues by The Doors. Judit Neddermann will take over and will introduce, with her incredible voice, her second album Un segon, in which she blends folk and pop music with her own lyrics and music. Friday will end, musically speaking, with Cola Jet Set, a music group that exemplifies the spirit of Minipop like no other. Their opening in Tarragona will work as the presentation of some of the songs from their latest album El fin del mundo.
Music on Saturday will start and end with the festival’s resident deejays, the Superpandas. Their responsibility will be to keep music temperature as high as possible, starting at 5.15pm and until late hours. Superpandas will be followed by Bremen, “the best-kept secret of the current scene”, according to Lluís Gavaldà, director of Minipop. Bremen, who will perform at 6pm, plays American-style pop music, and will introduce songs from their second work Tornar d’Amèrica. Next, it’s time for some Argentinian pop music by one of the most glittering and promising groups, Luciana Tagliapietra and the Chicas Nieve. From the hypnotic and sensual pop music by Tagliapietra we move to pop folk by Guillem Roma, who –around 8pm– will introduce a new songbook packed with social commitment lyrics. Last two concerts on Saturday are, probably, the most awaited ones. On one hand, people are looking forward to the new release by Joan Pons on the Minipop (who is also known as El petit de cal Eril), where he’ll be introducing his latest and anticipated album La força. As Lluís Gavaldà suggests, this is “folk, psychedelia and electricity, serving an absolutely impersonal and non-transferable sound universe”. And, as the perfect ending on Saturday, we find a familiar face in the festival, Ramon Rodríguez, also known as The New Raemon. This year, he promised to generously follow his songbook, with the addition of his latest album Oh Rompehielos.
And if you thought this was the end of it, you’d be wrong. On Sunday, at around 12.30pm, don’t miss the tribute concert to David Bowie by Alex Torío and… Empar Moliner! It’s going to be good, really good!
But of course, Minipop is much more than a mere music festival. Yes, right, music is the main thing here and the reason of it all, but besides the above-mentioned music performances, you’ll get cinema, theatre, workshops, dance, a baby area, literature and a food area. Find all the necessary information at: http://minipop.cat/inici
Have a nice Minipop!
If I were to define the concept “one man band” I would probably try to get inspiration from the figure of Georges Méliès (1861-1931), a Parisian from the mid 19th century that, despite the choice he could have taken to enjoy a quiet life as a “grandeur” and a businessman in the luxury shoe industry (initially taught by his father), he decided to get his life that little bit more complicated by claiming his part of the inheritance and get into the world of pictures and cinema, still to be discovered. It was actually in this field of arts that he played every possible role. Méliès worked as a cartoonist, magician, theatre director, actor, decorator, dressmaker, technician and also producer and distributor of over 500 films, totally handmade, between 1896 and 1912.
CaixaFòrum Tarragona is now paying tribute to this man and will home the exhibition “Georges Méliès, the magic of cinema” until 10 January, an essential showing in order to understand his majesty and his undeniable role as one of the fathers of cinematography. It is not in vain that Méliès is fairly considered one of the pioneers of cinema and special effects. Anna Catà, from Auriga Serveis Culturals, will provide you with the best guided tour round the exhibition.
Using the part of the inheritance he deserved –his brothers got the luxury shoe company–, Georges bought a theatre he used to make his dreams come true: Chinese shadow puppets, magical lanterns and optical cases (the dioramas of today), adding the perspective and all the previous inventions to the player that would then give birth to cinema. Contemporary and neighbour of the Lumière brothers (Louis and Auguste), generally considered as the discoverers of the seventh art, Georges Méliès could be attributed the initial success of the project… and its deterioration, for the benefit of the major industries.
The exhibition at CaixaFòrum allows us for a deeper, more profound look at the Méliès that reigned, like the Sun King, over the world of fantasy genre and trick photography, with techniques that, despite having been improved nowadays, they’re still very present in many of the contemporary films, such as the Harry Potter saga. Georges Méliès succeeded in making a whole generation dream, even though they were not that sure about this incipient seventh art since they wouldn’t really hesitate before going away from the cinema when presented with certain effects. The French filmmaker would use special effects such as the illusionism, pyrotechnics, optical illusions, horizontal and vertical foldouts, camera stops, small electric shocks, dissolved transitions, overprints… he was really ahead of its time.
The tribute paid to Méliès in this very recommended showing homed by CaixaFòrum Tarragona shows the very early years of the French filmmaker, his golden age, with projects later plagiarised in the USA, and his decline. Films, models –like the cinema studio he built–, dressings, decorations, characters, inventions, personal objects… the exhibition is a tour round the Méliès universe.
As for the ending, this doesn’t differ that much from an actual film. After rejecting the family business to go on an adventure towards an unknown world, plagiarisms, changes on trending and, mainly, the industrialisation of the sector, ended up on him being absolutely broke. Thus, completely trapped by debts, he decided to sell his studios and his film collection to a man that would then reuse them to create toys… and shoes. And there it is, the end of the film; of a sad film.
CaixaForum Tarragona: Carrer Cristòfor Colom, 2 (next to Font del Centenari), 43001 Tarragona.
Mondays to Fridays, 9am – 9pm
Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays, 11am – 2pm & 4pm – 9pm
Guided tours for general public:
Catalan, Saturdays at 7pm
Spanish, Sundays at 7pm
Guided tours for groups:
By agreement, day and time, at +34 977 249 871
Price per group, 60€ (maximum, 25 people)
Xavier Garcia Puerto is not the kind of person in this country that goes to bed at ten o’clock. He wasn’t, back as a child, when he would stay awake to watch Fritz Lang on TV. And he is not now, since he is a member of the jury of a number of film festivals, and he can watch up to seven movies on the trot every day. Those many hours in front of the screen make him immensely happy, but Tarragona does also get the rewards. Garcia Puerto is REC Festival’s director, a contest specialised on discovering new talent, which has cleverly managed to get over recession to become a true pillar on the city’s cultural autumn agenda.
Despite the modest budget, REC has built up a well-known reputation for being able to anticipate future stars. The director Steve McQueen could not release “Hunger” (2008) in Spain, but when he was awarded with an Oscar for the best movie, Tarragona’s faithful audience were already richly familiar with him. And another similar case; the scriptwriter Borja Cobeaga is still getting new jobs and awards thanks to the festival. He was not that famous some years ago, but with the première at the REC Festival of “Éramos pocos” (2006) and “Pagafantas” (2009), he got the doors wide open to work in “Ocho apellidos vascos”, the Spanish film with the highest earnings in history.
The REC Festival will exhibit, between the 3rd and the 8th of December, around twenty movies, a selection of the best young cinema that is being made in Catalonia, Spain and the world. What it began as a festival designed by some friends, and that even back in 2001 managed 1,500 spectators, has evolved to a contest that is specialised in making almost miracles with such a small budget, thanks mostly to experience and an increasing list of professional contacts. The event is very appealing and helps Tarragona become known to both film and festival producers from all over the world.
Thanks to a budget much higher that this year’s, more sections and scheduled films, the showing got to its highest level in 2011, with over 10,000 spectators. The financial crisis has reduced both the structure and the number of films shown to a third, and yet the festival has lost neither the international repercussion nor the support of a faithful and heterogeneous public that can’t help experiencing high-quality cinema in their very same city. “The REC Festival is for non-conformists, curious people that demand a top-notch cultural programme. We’ve got spectators from Tarragona, and the whole region, but also from El Garraf and Barcelona”, says Xavier Garcia Puerto.
Tarragona, “Europe’s California” according to the director Bigas Luna in reference to their similar number and quality of daylight hours, has become a prominent studio set in recent years. However, a part from a few movie-related projects, like some original version movies programmed by the cultural association “Anima’t” or URV’s “Aula de Cinema”, it is very difficult to attend as spectator in Tarragona to a film festival, which is not the REC, which can gather such high number of movies and producers that are not found in regular cinemas.
“I like those movies that punch you in the face, that trigger some sort of reaction on the spectator. I like cinema that provokes and communicates”, says Garcia Puerto. A little bit of all this is to be expected by people attending this festival. “Any director’s talent should arise in the very first film. If he or she does not show a strong personality, or does not stand out, there might not be a second chance”, he states. According to Xavier, opportunities don’t come to you; you have to go and chase them, even if you have to cross the entire world.
Like, for example, that occasion when he was invited as part of a jury in a festival in South Corea providing he purchased the plane tickets himself. “I made a personal investment but it was well worth it. I met a person who then allowed me to become a member of the jury in the Berlinale last year” he explains. Palic, Yakutsk, Berlín… Each year, Garcia Puerto attends to a couple of film festivals as a member of the jury, and does not miss the best of Cannes, Venice and Rotterdam.
All in all, besides his collaboration with Tallinn’s Festival, does help Xavier discover over 400 films per year, meet new contacts and design REC’s programme. That is some experience right there; a lot of work and many decisions to make in just one year for a single-weekend film festival.
José Coronado and his family live in a mind-blowing house by the sea, in Tamarit. Julio Manrique keeps his car in a garage at Pla de la Seu, just opposite the Cathedral. And hidden in Casa Corderet’s back room, in Carrer Merceria, there is an exclusive chess academy, which is also… wait for it, the library of the ‘Centre de Lectura’ of Reus. Life in Fill de Caín, the awarded début film by Jesús Monllaó, takes place around Tarragona, a set with huge potential which, thanks to its festivalish nomination, is now well-known in places such as Mumbai, La Habana, Montreal, Moscow, Miami or Berlin.
Monllaó, Anglo Germanic philologist, had been looking forward to such an opportunity for years. In the late 90s, he left Tarragona to study a doctorate in literature in England. In Canterbury, he experienced the solitude of the immigrant and managed to survive with little, very little, which gave him time to think… and thus he realised that his main purpose in life should be to tell stories; to become a film director. He got trained and got back home in 2000, convinced of being able to make films.
However, the film he had been looking forward to has taken much time, and it has been released just when both Spanish and Catalan film industry are going through rough times, with less productions than ever before. Until now, Monllaó has directed three short films, which have succeeded in the corresponding categories –La Mirada oblicua, Gloria and El legado–, he has also made a documentary, and some TV adds, and has continued to work almost as anything, just as he used to do back in England. He actually adapted the script for Fill de Caín while he was working as a night watchman in a campsite.
Being an active and determined man, the very same determination which had helped him become a boxer and body builder, Monllaó always knew that his aim was to shoot a film in Tarragona. And, despite the fact that the city had never had cinematographic models, he was never taken seriously at first. “People didn’t really get it. They would look at me utterly shocked, and I was even told to give it try in Hollywood. Instead, I always believed in the possibilities of a city that I love and to which I owe the world”, says the director.
Fill de Caín, which didn’t make to the Goya Awards due to bureaucratic issues but which has been selected by the EU as one of the best movies in 2013 that will represent Europe on international cinema festivals, has been qualified as a “Mediterranean thriller” and shows Tarragona’s potential as a film set. Monllaó has financed the film thanks to monetary contributions by local institutions. Nonetheless, he claims he was not aiming for the city to become any sort of display window: “My purpose was to tell a story the best I could. Tarragona sells by itself”.
The film, awarded in Malaga and Tudela film festivals, will resume its tour and will virtually take Tarragona to Poland, France and Australia. It has a range of real lights, faces and locations which, according to Monllaó, is suitable for all genres: “Tarragona is the perfect scenery for a romantic plot. It would actually inspire Ridley Scott for a futuristic film too, a sort of post apocalyptic dystopia”. Can you imagine a Blade Runner sequel set in Southern Europe’s most important chemistry industrial site?
*We would like to thank the manager of the National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona (MNAT), Francesc Tarrats Bou, due to his permission that allowed us to take this report’s cover photograph inside the building.