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The Film Festival

Outside the Ramón Alonso Luzzy Cultural Centre there were big posters advertising the 38th International Festival of Cinema in Cartagena. Coloured spotlights shone onto the brickwork of the building. Inside though the building was still and quiet. The security guard seated at a small table just inside the main door glanced up momentarily before returning to his paperwork. This wasn't quite what I'd expected. The publicity said that entrance was free to all the films but there was a warning note "to the capacity of the auditorium." I had taken this to mean turn up early if you want a seat. And turn up early I had, about 40 minutes before kick off. I retreated, I knew a bar just round the corner where the coffee was cheap and good and, as I wasn't driving, I had a stiffener too.

I went back with about twenty minutes before the advertised start. The place was still pretty quiet but people were moving about. I followed a group who seemed to know where they were going as there were no signs and no ushers. Just outside the hall there were some people at a table looking very busy and I hesitated for a moment as to whether I should go there but then I half guessed and half realised that they were handing out those big plasticised tags that people hang around their necks at events nowadays. I quickened my pace and headed for some open double doors.

This is now maybe 15 minutes before the film is due to start. The place was so empty that people were still standing up by their seats so as to avoid the embarrasment of sitting down and looking like someone who has turned up for the party before the cheese dip has been poured out. The press photographers and TV news person were trying to find enough people in one place to get a decent shot. Amazingly though when the Mayor was shown to his seat, about five minutes after the advertised start time, the hall was about half full.

And the film, the first of seventeen, an offering from Uruguay called Mal día para pescar wasn't bad at all, rather good in fact despite having won the Free Spirit Award at the Warsaw Film Festival this year.

I've already been to the associated exhibition about Spanish cinema, it's unlikely that I'll be joining any of the workshops but with a bit of luck I'll get to see some of the shorts on the big screen. And all within walking distance of my front door. Splendid.


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