Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
Selecting just one film from the thousands we have screened, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Film Festival in Wellington, seemed impossible – until we heard about this new digitised restoration of one of the great hits of our first decade. Coming at the end of an era when every Spanish film worth its salt was an encrypted dispatch about life under Franco Cría cuervos, shot the year of his death, beguiles with its evocation of trans-generational mysteries – and leaves audiences as addicted as its young protagonist to the Spanish pop song ‘Porque te vas’. — BG
“An exquisitely made and deeply affecting film, told from the viewpoint of children, which has guilt and trauma running through its delicate veins… Eight-year-old Ana (Ana Torrent, from The Spirit of the Beehive) is the middle of three sisters, and we meet her in her well-off and conservative family’s claustrophobic Madrid home just as her ex-soldier father, Anselmo (Héctor Alterio), dies – joining her pale, weak mother, Ana (Geraldine Chaplin, seen in flashbacks), who passed away not long before.
Ana is convinced she is responsible for her father’s death, and we see a number of episodes, past and present, real and fantastical, which sketch her uneasy position in a world where children are party to adultery, patriarchy, unhappiness, conflict and scary raw chicken feet in the fridge. The performances of the children – especially Torrent, who has a haunting, old-beyond-her-years presence – are exceptional, and writer/director Carlos Saura moves us with a gentle, poetic ease through the film’s many complex realities.” — Dave Calhoun, Time Out