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Acting across frontiers

Engaging a range of audiences in discussions about the craft of acting in Spanish-speaking world cinema, with film screenings and accompanying masterclasses.

  • School/Institute/Department: School of Language Linguistics and Film
  • Subjects: Language, Film
  • Audience: Adult, A-level, General Public

The work of Spanish-speaking actors is too often reduced to celebrity gossip rather than a detailed discussion of the processes that shape character formation. This project used the visibility of a generation of Spanish-speaking actors to programme three film seasons with accompanying masterclasses on acting and the crafting of a role on film, role of training, the construction of on- and off-screen identities and issues of national identity and screen performance in an increasingly global world.

The project offered its audiences enhanced understandings of the acting processes that have underpinned a number of key films in contemporary Spanish culture, as well as offering performers the opportunity to reflect on their own work in a critically informed manner.

Programming took place across three phases:

  • ‘Acting Almodóvar’ (28 September-10 October 2012), presented five films examining the performance registers of Spain’s most important living film director, Pedro Almodóvar. The season closed with a masterclass with actors Marisa Paredes and Antonia San Juan discussing the process of crafting a role with him on film. 
  • ‘Acting on Both Sides of the Atlantic’ (25-28 April 2013) programmed four films looking at the transnational work of Spanish-Argentine actors Juan Diego and María Botto. The season closed with an onstage conversation with the Botto siblings. 
  • 'Sergi López: A European Actor’ (16-18 May 2014), screened four films and culminated with an accompanying career interview with the Lecoq-trained López, examining the performances across four languages that has given his career a resolutely European dimension.

An additional interim event, the presentation of the UK premiere of Oscar-winning Fernando Trueba's French-set El artista y la modelo /The Artist and the Model), was followed by a career interview with the director. Furthermore building on ‘Acting Almodóvar’, the project presented a special screening of Almodóvar's 2013 film, Los amantes pasajeros / I'm So Excited!, followed by a Q&A with actors Carlos Areces and Blanca Suárez.

1457 people attended the screenings, masterclasses and public interviews in audiences including school, undergraduate and postgraduate students, teachers and academics, actors, filmmakers, critics and a more general audience interested in cinema or Spanish cinema in particular. The project's website had scored over 100,000 hits within a year, and the videos are freely available online, proving to be a highly effective way of disseminating information about the events, being popular with school and university students.

a fabulous event and a great way of finding out what happens behind the scenes, Maria Delgado is wonderful at making actors feel they can talk about anything
Audience Feedback

The events were produced by Joana Granero, Director of the London Spanish Film Festival and curated by Maria Delgado, Professor of Theatre and Screen Arts at Queen Mary, University of London

This project was funded by a Centre for Public Engagement Large Award. All Large Award projects were asked to produce a poster, giving more details about the project and sharing learning gained from it. You can see the poster for Acting Across Frontiers here [PDF]

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