Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Tabernas is once again the capital of Western cinema

 The eleventh edition of the festival kicks off with the delivery of awards and many memories

La Voz de Almeria

Tabernas is once again, another year and after the pandemic stopped, the capital of Western with the celebration of the Almería Western Film Festival, which from Friday until Monday, October 11, relived the best times of the cinema in the province of Almería.


Thus, the 11th edition of the Almería Western Film Festival kicked off in Tabernas with a first day of activities where "the western has returned to the streets" with an inaugural parade. Specialists, musicians and cancaneras, as well as fans of the different associations of the province, set the scene for this parade. The opening gala was held in the 'saloon' of Oasys Mini Hollywood and was presented by the Almeria actor Ricardo Arqueros.


On this first day of the festival, which offered more than forty activities over four days, the commitment to adapt to new circumstances has been demonstrated with a greater presence of acts and events in the open air and at the same time to value the Desert of Tabernas and the towns of the west as natural cinematographic scenes. "The heart of this festival is the movies, but we also have news such as the award to Mateo Gil for his drive to modernize the genre, and other activities that are a bit out of the ordinary to reconquer spaces such as the Tabernas Desert. An example of this is the excavation we are doing to unearth one of the cars from 'Duck You Sucker!' that was buried 50 years ago during the filming on the rambla”, stated the director of AWFF, Guillermo de Oliveira.

The mayor of Tabernas, José Díaz, has indicated that “the festival begins a second decade, after ten editions, in which it goes out again to enjoy the multiple activities for all audiences, and that fans can live this unique event and feel it again in unusual spaces such as the local Castle and the Desert, as well as the western towns”.


Through videoconference, the 'Tabernas Desert' award was presented to the writer Sir Christopher Frayling on the 40th anniversary of his work 'Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone', a pioneering book in the dissemination of the Tabernas Desert as cinematic icon. “It all started in 1965 and I remember going into a movie theater to see 'For a Fistful of Dollars', the costumes, the landscape and the music fascinated me. I discovered that the surroundings had an incredible beauty that had nothing to do with the scenes of the westerns of the United States. And from there I began to study the films that had been shot in Tabernas”, said Frayling.

Alessandro de Rosa, friend and disciple of Ennio Morricone (Rome, 1928-2020) has collected the 'Leone in Memoriam' prize that the festival has awarded to the Italian composer posthumously. “He didn't know me, but one day I approached the teacher and presented him with a record with my compositions and he accepted my proposal, he told me that he had listened to it and he gave me the opportunity. That is how my friendship with him was forged and he led me to write his biography”, said De Rosa. The tribute included a video message from Marco Morricone who thanked the composer for this recognition, who put the soundtrack to more than 500 films over seven decades, 27 of which were shot in Tabernas and Almería.


After the gala, a permanent cemetery was inaugurated that brings together the graves of all outstanding professionals with the 'Leone in Memoriam' award since 2016. In addition to the tomb of Ennio Morricone are those of Fernando Sancho, Tomas Milian, Carlo Simi, George Hilton and Sergio Sollima. The event featured the performance of well-known soundtracks by the string quartet of the Orquesta Ciudad de Almería (OCAL).


The Junta de Andalucía and the Diputación de Almería have transferred their support to the festival in this new edition with the presence of the deputy for Culture and Cinema, Manuel Guzmán; and the delegate of Tourism, Vicente García. “This festival highlights our history and cultural heritage linked to the seventh art and the western genre. A very interesting event for any fan because it allows them to access the new formats and styles that this genre so mythical for our land is going through. We are lucky to experience it in Almería. The Provincial Council has been in this project since its genesis and we will continue to be because it places the province at an international level in the audiovisual industry and empowers professionals from Almeria in the cinematographic sector. There is no better filming location for the western and any film than the province of Almería”. For his part, the Tourism delegate, Vicente García has pointed out that “this Festival is something exclusive and unique. For us it is a spectacular brand that is related to our territory, something very important that we must take care of and protect. Therefore, we will continue betting on it in the next editions. Tabernas also has many more things to offer, but the Almería Western Film Festival places us at the forefront at a national and international level”.


On this first day, other activities have been carried out at Oasys Mini Hollywood such as the presentation of the book 'Spaguetti Western' by Rafael Gómez Heredia. In his work he compiles the history of 'Los Jerraos', gypsies who were pioneers in being a nexus of film production companies to which they provided figuration and action horsemen for the most relevant films of the 'spaghetti western' that were filmed in Almería. In addition to the classic show performed by specialists, the town hosts an exhibition of a Playmobil Western collection.


This morning the screenings of the Official Feature Film Section have begun at the Tabernas Theater with 'Calamity' (France, 2020), a feminist and animated western that makes a defense of equality and a plea for the role of women; and 'First Cow' (USA, 2019), a precise metaphor for the beginning of capitalism in America, have started the screenings of the Official Section of Wéstern Feature Films, which brings together seven films from five countries. In addition, the exhibition of 'Original posters of Franco Nero films' has been inaugurated in Tabernas, which can be visited until next October 11 at the Sala La Serrata in Tabernas.


All activities are subject to the preventive measures against Covid in force of the Junta de Andalucía and the Government of Spain. José Díaz has thanked the support received by the autonomous and provincial administrations, as well as the private companies that demonstrate their commitment to Almería Western Film Festival so that it maintains its growth and consolidates itself as a great international western film festival, unique in Europe. that attracts the film industry and promotes tourism and culture, not only in Tabernas but throughout the province.

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