Nuevo cine español

Nuevo cine español
New spanish cinema
   The 1955 Salamanca Conversations ended with a series of proposals for a renovation of Spanish cinema in order to strengthen the industry and make films more socially relevant and artistically ambitious. But the government's lack of interest in cinema and the obstacles set up by a system of censorship with no explicit rules made this very difficult.
   In 1962, José María García Escudero, who had served in Franco's army and participated in the Salamanca gathering as a representative of the authorities, was made General Director for Cinematography with a specific agenda aimed at addressing the crisis in Spanish cinema. He intensely disliked the banality and irrelevance of commercial Spanish cinema and thought the way forward lay with the new generation of filmmakers graduating from the Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinematográficas (IIEC). He believed it was necessary for the government to support more ambitious filmmaking that could be presented at international festivals abroad and which also engaged with domestic reality.
   Of course, the new generation would have to be kept under control ideologically. One of García Escudero's earliest measures was to introduce a new, more detailed censorship code that could act to limit the artistic ambitions of young filmmakers. At the same time, he instituted a series of funding measures to support innovative cinema. The films that came out of this situation are known as Nuevo cine español, a movement that was at the time a ray of hope for Spanish auteurs, but which lasted only as long as García Escudero held his post. The group of recent IIEC graduates who made their first films during this period includes Basilio Martín Patino, Francisco Regueiro, Miguel Picazo, Manolo Summers, Angelino Fons, Mario Camus, Julio Diamante, Jose Luis Borau, Pedro Olea, Jordi Grau, Víctor Erice, Antonio Mercero, and José Luis Egea. Some emblematic titles are La busca (Fons, 1967), Young Sánchez (Camus, 1964), Nueve Cartas a Berta (Nine Letters to Berta, Patino, 1966), Juguetes Rotos (Broken Toys, Summers, 1966), El buen amor (Good Love, Regueiro, 1963), Del rosa al amarillo (From Pink to Yellow, Summers, 1963), De cuerpo presente (In the Presence of the Body, Eceiza, 1967), and La tía Tula (Aunt Tula, Picazo, 1964).
   By 1967, García Escudero was dismissed and official support for this particular approach to film had ceased. In a sense, the idea of an alternative to commercial cinema remained, but the measures that had made it possible disappeared. In broader terms, Nuevo cine español was an opportunity for Spanish cinema to become part of the aesthetic rebellions of European film in the 1960s, led by the French nouvelle vague, free cinema in Great Britain, and new German cinema. However, limitations to freedom of expression made Spanish films less daring and less critical than their European counterparts. New Spanish films dealt in an elliptical way with the heritage of the Civil War and a subtle expression of discomfort known as "critical realism." Typical New Spanish cinema films were impregnated with a mood of melancholy and repression, and much less open about sexual issues than their European counterparts; they focused on provincial life and family relations, often as the metonymy of Spanish isolation and to symbolically articulate aspects of the generational clash between those who took part in the Civil War and their children.
   Although Nuevo cine español was a bold attempt to change the Spanish film industry, the overall result of its policies is far from positive. Most of the films were box-office flops, and very few actually won awards at international festivals (which had been one of the initial goals). The industry became reliant on government funding, and this support was ultimately used by more commercial producers, rather than innovative auteurs. Some filmmakers (for instance, Antxon Eceiza) saw their careers interrupted by the less supportive political context that followed, with difficult trajectories that, in some cases, only revived after the Transition (Francisco Regueiro is an example of this); others, like Basilio Martín Patino, attempted cinematic forms less risky than the feature film; and finally, the larger group, including Manuel Summers and Mario Camus, was absorbed into the industry to tackle increasingly commercial projects.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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