Celebrating Luis García Berlanga

A special series tucked into our Spanish Cinema Now festival this year will feature the films of the late Luis García Berlanga, who helped fuel a resurgence in Spanish cinema in the desolate years following the Spanish Civil War.

The 10-film retrospective kicks off this Friday at 3:20pm with The Executioner (1963), Berlanga’s masterful, darkly comic tale of a man who may inherit the job of state executioner from his bride’s father. The movie caused international discord when it screened at the Venice Film Festival, owing to the Franco regime’s sensitivity over political executions. It also screens December 13.

His own father having been nearly executed after the Spanish Civil War, Berlanga used underhanded satire and a barbed sense of humor to rib Franco and the society he created. He and several cohorts (including Juan Antonio Bardem, the uncle of Javier Bardem) paved the way for social introspection in a staid contemporary film scene, creating many of the classics of modern Spanish cinema along the way. Berlanga died last November.

Two of Berlanga’s most acclaimed films screen back-to-back on December 11 and 15. His beloved debut, Welcome Mr. Marshall! (1953), follows a village’s misbegotten attempts to finagle post-war American aid from visiting officials, while Plácido (1961) is a winking Oscar-nominated Christmas story about a town where affluent families each take in a poor person for the holiday. Both are considered to be among Berlanga’s masterpieces. 

For a full listing of the films in the retrospective head to the Spanish Cinema Now series page. Bundles of four tickets start at just $28 for Film Society members!

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