While waiting for the next year to throw the house out the window to commemorate its silver anniversary and foreseeably eliminate the masks, the Malaga Festival can show its chest for having been the first major cultural event that was held in Spain in August last year, when vaccination was still a pipe dream. The elimination of the red carpet, which in the Andalusian capital gathers crowds, the limitation of capacity and the sanitary measures achieved an edition that to top it off shone in the cinematographic: from here came box office successes such as ‘Up to heaven’, by Daniel Calparsoro, and ‘Rosa’s wedding’, of Icíar Bollaín, and the great winner of the Goya, ‘The girls’, scored by Pilar Palomero.
Malaga was the first event to be canceled due to the pandemic and served as a test bed for all those who have come after. This year it has even added one more day for all the screenings, press conferences and meetings to take place calmly and safely until June 13. The official section has programmed 19 Spanish and Latin American feature films, many of them shot in the last year of the pandemic. Of these, 40% are led by women. There are veterans, like Judith Colell, who addresses sexist abuse in ’15 days’, but above all the debutantes prevail. Thus, Ainhoa Rodríguez presents the very personal ‘Brave flash’, starring village women; Carol Rodríguez Colas tells in a comedy key the return to a Cornellá neighborhood in ‘Chicks’; Macarena Astorga sets a horror story in a town in the Malaga mountains in ‘The house of the snail’; and Julia de Paz Solvas follows a mother and her six-year-old daughter seeking life on the street in ‘Mistress’.
Malaga hosts comedies that will help fill dying cinemas, such as ‘Operation Shrimp’, a comic thriller by Telecinco Cinema to the rhythm of trap with Julián López as a disaster. It will also premiere two of the most anticipated series of the year: ‘Paradise’ (Movistar Plus), a Spanish-style ‘Stranger Things’, and ‘Lost Fagot’ (TNT), autobiographical account by the television Bob Pop. Mariano Barroso, Alejandro Amenábar and Oliver Laxe, among others, will receive the tribute of a contest that has been inaugurated with ‘El Cover’, the first feature film as director of the actor Secun de la Rosa. A heartfelt but unsuccessful tribute to music and losers set in Benidorm, which its author has not been able to present in person as he is still suffering from the effects of the covid.
The filming of ‘El Cover’ had to be interrupted in March of last year due to the pandemic, which will undoubtedly have contributed to the fact that the result was not what De la Rosa had in mind. Dedicated “to all musicians, especially covers”, the film takes its name from the imitators who cover famous songs in Benidorm’s tourist bars. Álex Monner plays a boy who works as a waiter and is so afraid of failing as a singer despite his talent that he resists acting. “It costs little or nothing to be one more”, as stated in the stanza of ‘El Sitio de mi Recreo’ with which the film starts, programmed in Malaga out of competition. In addition to Antonio Vega, endless songs are sung like karaoke: from ‘Eres tú’ by Mocedades to ‘Forever Young’ by Alphaville, ‘Ne me quitte pas’, ‘I had so much to give you’ …
Secun de la Rosa succeeds in portraying Benidorm out of season as a place where time seems suspended and Amy Winehouse imitators meet drunken Britons at dawn. It’s our Las Vegas, used in the same way that Coppola did with the gambling city in ‘Hunch’. However, despite the love and complicity for show business that the director shows, ‘El Cover’, which opens in theaters on July 23, deflates in anticipation of a spark that never comes. The initial verve, the joy of contemplating in these funeral times people having a good time, is not enough. The presence of Juan Diego, Carmen Machi and Susi Sánchez, either. A shame, because nothing better than singing at the top of your lungs ‘I Will Survive’ to inaugurate this Malaga Festival.