Seedy vampires, weird documentaries, ‘soft’ eroticism: Sala B celebrates five years of cult Spanish cinema at the Filmoteca

His proposal to dignify our B-series films celebrates its fiftieth session this Friday at the Doré Cinema, screening a careful selection of trailers of all genres

“In this country, B movies have always been something underground, of geeks and who had never been given the importance that is usually given to other types of productions. In the French film library, to name the closest one, they have had sections dedicated to this type of cinema for years, but in the Spanish film library, beyond occasional special cycles, there was nothing similar”, he comments Alex Mendibilprogrammer of Room:Bthe monthly appointment of Spanish Film Library with series B, which has just turned five years old and that this afternoon, at 8:00 p.m. and in the main room of the cinema dorewill hold its fiftieth session.

“I never imagined that this could become a reality. I presented the proposal very timidly, not because I did not trust the team at Filmoteca Española, but because it was such an exciting project for me that, if it came out, it would be wonderful”, recalls Mendibil, whose proposal was immediately accepted by Carlos Reviriego, responsible for programming of the institution.

“Sala:B is one of the great jewels of our programming. We started working on it in January 2017, shortly after I joined the Filmoteca. I realized that it was necessary to open a window to that Spanish cinema that broadcasts another story of our cinematography, our society and our country.In that sense, Sala:B proposes something extraordinary, because it is not just about showing films, but also connects with the The very essence of any film library: discovering these titles through research and archaeology. For this reason, we were always clear that we had to open the doors of our archives to Álex Mendibil, so that he would have total freedom when it came to investigating and deciding on the programs”, explains Carlos Reviriego, who highlights how Mendibil’s work has discovered productions that they totally wrote off. For example, what a honeymoon1980 movie Jess Franco whose world premiere was made precisely in Sala:B.

Other auteur cinema

Despite having been a mistreated genre throughout its history, series B, genre cinema or escape films are much more than exotic, funny and fun productions in which it is evident that the monsters are made of rubber or Dracula’s teeth are bought at Caramelos Paco.

“In addition to all that, which is very good, the B series has a way of shooting and telling things that is different from conventional cinema. They are works that have to do with the beginnings of cinema, with the search, with being moved by anything and not accept the rules that determine what is or is not correct. It is a cinema in which, as the pioneers did, the directors let themselves be carried away by instinct, because in series B those responsible are continually inventing to do what they can with what little they have“reflects Mendibil, who does not hesitate to affirm that, in a certain way, B-series cinema is also auteur cinema.

These films are better documents of their time than the big productions. The latter are more protected from the outside, and in the gender ones it transcends politics, fashion, advertising…”

“There are very clear examples of that. For example, Jesús Franco, a director who, having everything in his favor because he was the child prodigy of the Film School, chose to marginalize himself and make B-series films because that was where he could do what he wanted. I felt like it. The same thing happens with Loving of Ossorioof which we will show a film next month, which apparently does not stand out for being an author, but when you see all his films together, you do recognize a very personal seal and imprint”, Mendibil comments that, in addition to the playful and artistic, highlights the value of series B as a document of an era. “These films are better documents of their time than the big productions. While the latter are more protected from the outside, in genre productions they transcend politics, fashion, advertising… It is a phenomenon that has to do with improvisation, the freedom and the small budgets with which they shot. Being cheap films and having to make them very quickly, all that was impregnated there”.

a faithful community

Throughout these five years in charge of Sala:B, Mendibil has managed to create a loyal community of fans who, every last Friday of the month, go to Cine Doré to enjoy some titles that are usually presented by members of the artistic cast or technician who participated in them. For example, Silvia Tortosa, Emilio Linder, Ramiro Oliveros, Sebastian D’Arbo, lone fleming, Theresa Gimpera either Maria Jose Cantudo. On many occasions they are not aware that their work is so valued and loved.

“In this I have to give credit to Carlos Reviriego because he was the one who insisted that we make presentations. For the opening session we wanted to bring some powerful guest and, among those proposed, was Teresa Gimpera. When I called her it was so easy to convince her and make her come from Barcelona that I thought that the same thing could happen with others and, indeed, it did. Although sometimes I find it difficult to find the telephone numbers, when I propose it, they are delighted to come and have a great time because they would never have imagined such a thing. Someone may have told you that your films are cult, but it sounds like something very far away, something that might happen in the United States, but not here, so when you walk into a room full of people and find that there are people with the VHS cover for them to sign, they are amazed. In some cases, like that of María José Cantudo, the actress even stayed to see the two films because she had not seen them at the time”.

In keeping with that tradition, today’s commemorative session will also feature special guests. Among them, Jorge Explosiongroup leader Doctor Explosion, Galactusfrom the fanzine Mondo BruttoY Diego RJhost of The basementthe space of Radius 3 dedicated to garage and surf music that will be broadcast live today from the Doré Cinema, as an appetizer for the screening of a selection of promotional trailers for Spanish B-series movies.

“I am fascinated by old trailers. Among other things, because they were not like the ones of today. Aesthetically they are a party, with those graphics, those voiceovers… For this reason, although we have been putting them between film and film over the years, I had always had the idea of ​​doing a trailer-only session. Having to decide what to program for the fiftieth session, I thought that these materials were the best solution because choosing two films for such an important session was more delicate. Also, in the archives of Filmoteca Española there are many trailers that are not usually screened, so this session is also a way of valuing the work of Ramon Rubio and the whole team Conservation and Restoration Center when it comes to collecting and storing all those trailers for Filmoteca and the one for David Perez who has mounted them on coils”.

session 51

After the celebration of these five years, Sala:B will continue with its monthly proposal formed by its already traditional double programs. “I recognize that projecting two titles is a hobby of mine. I am from Gijón and in my time there were no longer double programs or continuous sessions. Since I had not been able to enjoy that way of seeing cinema, I did it myself by going to see two movies in a row”, confesses Álex Mendibil, who tries not to make the combination of the two films too obvious.

“There are people who are big fans of Sala:B who find it hard to stay with both films and only watch the first one, which is the best known, while the second is like the B-side of a single, a hidden gem. I think that difficulty in seeing two movies is due to the pace of life we ​​currently have. Before, being at home was a drag and people did whatever it took not to go back there because it was uncomfortable, because they shared it with I don’t know who, because their parents… Now at home we are very well, maybe too much. Although we live in a shared apartment, in our room we have video games, music or video platforms in streamingbecause it’s also true that many of the people who can’t stand two movies in a row, then watch a full season of a series at home in one sitting”.

After these five years, the success of Sala:B has made many genre film lovers from all over Spain demand a similar proposal in their cities. A demand that has been heard by Mendibil, whose intention for next season is to be able to take the project outside of Madrid.

“As for next year,I want to do a kind of package with ‘The best of Sala:B’ for other film libraries in Spain. The problem I didn’t count on is that not all of them already have 35mm projectors, which is the format we use, not only because I like it better, but also because there are titles that have never been digitized and are only in that format. On the other hand, there are also film libraries that, having fewer sessions or less capacity to program, are dedicated to the most classic cinema and do not find room for rarities. In any case, let’s see if this year we can take Sala: B further”.

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Seedy vampires, weird documentaries, ‘soft’ eroticism: Sala B celebrates five years of cult Spanish cinema at the Filmoteca