To celebrate the upcoming Spanish Film Festival (20 April– 7 May), the CAE Languages Centre of Excellence crew got together and decided on their favourite Spanish language movies.

  1. The Secret In Their Eyes – El secreto de sus ojos (2009)
    An absolute brilliant movie that somehow incorporates a murder mystery with the 1978 Argentine coup and a tale of lost loves and regrets. The winner of the 2010 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, The Secret In Their Eyes sees retired Argentinean federal justice Benjamín Espósito (Ricardo Darin) re-open an old murder case for a book he’s writing with life-changing results. As for the ending, you’ll be haunted for weeks!
  2. Volver (2006)
    One of Pedro Almodovar’s finest, Volver opens with sisters Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and Soledad (Lola Dueñas) travelling from Madrid to visit their mother’s grave in the superstitious little town they grew up in. There they learn their mother’s ghost may be haunting the village and the efforts to uncover the mystery lead to the revelation of painful family secrets. An enchanting story that twists in several unexpected directions coupled with an amazing, gritty performance from Penelope Cruz.
  3. The Devil’s Backbone – El espinazo del diablo (2001)
    The first film to announce Guillermo Del Toro as a talent to watch, The Devil’s Backbone is a ghost story set in a dusty old orphanage at the tail end of the Spanish Civil War. But this is no ordinary orphanage as a dormant bomb sits malevolently in the playground and the ghost of a boy – Santi – walks the corridors at night, begging 10-year-old newcomer Carlos to solve the mystery of his death. From there the movie explodes into a harrowing war story, a treasure hunt and a thrilling coming-of-age tale in a film.
  4. Pan’s Labyrinth – El laberinto del fauno (2006)
    The second movie by Guillermo Del Toro on this list, but it’s not hard to see why as Pan’s Labyrinth is considered one of the best films of the century. Set in Spain during World War II, bookish 12-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) moves with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather in the country. When she arrives, Ofelia quickly discovers her stepfather is a cruel and sadistic army captain. But other challenges await her too, like the mysterious faun that invites her into a fairytale kingdom where she has to perform three tasks that will allow her to see her real father again. Like Devil’s Backbone, Del Toro delivers another stunning cross of adventure and fantasy.
  5. No (2012)
    This really shouldn’t be a fun film. How could someone make an enjoyable movie about an advertising campaign that was part of a referendum? Director Pablo Larrain does it with aplomb. Brilliant Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal stars as a hotshot advertising man in 1980s Chile, who’s hired to help the ‘No’ campaign’s bid for a referendum to stop military dictator Augustin Pinochet earning another eight years of rule. Although the story is a fictionalised version of that referendum, it doesn’t diminish the snapshot of Chile in the 80s.

If you wanted to get a head start on your mates and have a little Spanish up your sleeve before the festival begins, make sure you check out CAE’s Spanish courses. We have everything from elementary to advanced levels so you’ll be switching off the subtitles in no time!