SIFF “Face The Music” preview: Flamenco, Flamenco

Festival Screenings:

Sunday, May 22 - 7 pm - SIFF Cinema
Friday, May 27 - 4:30 pm - Everett
Monday, May 30 - 11 am - Egyptian

Make no mistake about it, Flamenco, Flamenco is not a documentary on the Spanish musical style, not in the traditional sense anyway. Over the course of the film’s 90 minutes, not one word is spoken, nothing is explained, and we are given no information as to the style’s rich history. From the moment the film begins, we are thrust right into one performance after another, twenty-one in all, filmed at Seville’s Expo Pavilion Soundstage, until the film ends.

The first thing that viewers notice when watching Flamenco, Flamenco is director Carlos Suara’s unique take on filming the musical performances. In front of a number of richly decorated sets and backdrops, a rotating cast of performers play out a piece consisting of singing, dancing, guitar playing, and hand clapping. There is no audience, and the musicians are performing only for the camera under high-quality stage lighting. Combine this with the cinematography of Oscar-winner Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now) and the performances take on the air of scenes from a major motion picture rather than what most are used to seeing from filmed musical performances, music videos, or other performance pieces.

It is fitting that the performances of Flameno, Flamenco take on this dramatic quality, as the style itself is so pregnant with emotion, feeling, and intensity. From the singers all but being brought to tears as they deliver their elongated wailings, to the dancers stoic concentration and foot-stomping, to the Spanish guitarists’ delicate finger-picking, all of the performances are so powerful that it almost seems as if the artists are indeed acting out a multi-faceted drama through their song and dance.

While those with an understanding of flamenco will be able to appreciate Flamenco, Flamenco the most, there is still plenty to take for those who are largely unfamiliar with the genre. The vividness of the performers’ dress and the settings they play in front of are nothing short of dazzling, and nearly every performance contains something that viewers have likely never seen before, whether it be a dancer performing with a lit cigarette in her mouth for the majority of the scene, or an anvil being used as an instrument. Flamenco, Flamenco is something that can be appreciated by everyone, but just be aware that you will be given no explanation or insight into the style outside of the performances themselves, which, to be honest, are all that you really need.

Here’s the trailer:

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