Zorrilla Theatre hosted the first edition of the UNESCO Valladolid City of Film Gala on Wednesday 27th October 2021. This event is part of the Film Week and celebrates the inclusion of Valladolid two years ago in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a result of its eminently cinematic trajectory, which earned it the consideration of City of Film.
The event was attended by authorities, filmmakers and some very special guests. Among the authorities, Ana María Redondo, Culture and Tourism Councillor for the Valladolid City Council, who, after some initial thanking words, highlighted some of the projects that have been carried out in the city under the protection of its inclusion in the network.
“Thanks to the impulse of UNESCO it has been possible to do things like the master’s degree in film at the University of Valladolid, as well as to carry out the festival last year, in the middle of the pandemic, or to launch the Seminci Channel, which allows everyone, even if they are not in Valladolid, to have access to many of the festival’s events,” said Redondo. She was especially proud of projects that fully touch on the educational field, such as the master’s degree itself, or the social field, such as Pajarillos Educa, or of economic promotion, such as the Shooting Locations Marketplace, the locations fair that brought together producers, location scouts and strategic suppliers on 21st and 22nd October.
New Projects for Valladolid
Ana Redondo gave way to María Eugenia García, president of the Castilla León UNICEF Committee, who expressed her gratitude that the City Council of Valladolid and Seminci “reserve this small space for this organisation.” She highlighted the situation in Nepal, “a country where water is a precious resource” and has had to cope with the pandemic with hardly any means for the population to wash their hands. “Imagine what it’s been like there!”
The mention of Nepal was not accidental. The gala programme included the screening of All the Souls…, a feature documentary by Roberto Lozano shot in the Asian country, with a change of plans on the fly: from filming the situation of the country after the 2015 earthquake to denouncing human trafficking, especially girls. “It’s the wealth of cinema related to real life, that ability to surprise you. If you want to -and if you let yourself- be carried away by the stories you find, they become something as wonderful as putting the focus on a reality as harsh as this one.”
Lozano highlighted the team’s pride in the result, although on stage there was the bitter note of remembrance for Roberto Fraile, the film’s director of photography, who was sadly murdered on April 26th in Burkina Faso. He also expressed his gratitude for the support of the Valladolid City Council, the Valladolid Film Office (VAFO) and the Ministry of Culture. “I would also like to thank Javier Angulo, Seminci Director, and two members of his team, Denise O’Keeffe and Blanca Visa, who have made it possible for Rajendra Kumar and Sharanda Khatri Gautam to be here today.”
Against Human Trafficking
The married couple, Rajendra and Shara, through their own organisation, are doing important work in the fight against human trafficking. “We want to thank Roberto for choosing Nepal to make a film about the trafficking of girls. Our organisation fights trafficking of children, boys and girls, as well as women. I’m not going to go into details, but I do want to appeal to you to share the message with everyone you can, and fight this trafficking of women together, and fundamentally that of children,” he explained.
Sharanda Khatri Gautam spoke in similar terms: “We are all people, human beings, but some suffer much more difficult circumstances than others. We work against human trafficking, especially women and children. I am a woman and I have children, so I share both interests.”
One Hundred Percent Valladolid Short Film
The screening of the documentary was preceded by another very special one: the short film by Valladolid filmmaker Herminio Cardiel, produced by Plan Secreto, by Jaime Alonso de Linaje and Pedro del Río. The three of them on stage highlighted the importance of VAFO and the Castilla Leon Regional Government for their short film, Ogro [Ogre], shot entirely at the Vega del Prado Secondary School, and with the collaboration of its students.
Cardiel shared with those present the origin of the project: “Ogro was born from the need to bring the professional cinema world closer to the students. We spent three days at Vega del Prado filming the story, and it was a beautiful experience because the kids got really involved.” It so happens that at Vega del Prado, in addition to secondary education, they also teach the upper level vocational training cycle in Lighting, Image Capture and Treatment.
Pedro del Río, when it was his turn, emphasised that being able to shoot entirely in Valladolid shows “that there are excellent professionals here.”
Two Years as City of Cinema
In 2019, Valladolid was declared by UNESCO a Creative City of Cinema. “It is not the recognition of a single project for the future or past, but of both, a tradition and a commitment to the future,” as Juan Manuel Guimerans, manager of Valladolid Turismo (Mixed Company for the Promotion of Tourism in Valladolid) and general secretary of the Spain Film Commission, explained moments before the ceremony began.
This commitment links cinema to local development and creativity, and in this context Seminci is “Valladolid’s great audio-visual asset,” as stated in the words of Guimerans, or, as Ana Redondo herself expressed after being accredited at the 66th edition of the festival, “its flagship” event. Likewise, one of the pillars on which the current Valladolid audio-visual ecosystem is based is the VAFO, “or Valladolid Film Commission, as it is going to be called from now on,” stated the manager.
Juan Manuel Guimerans showed his satisfaction not only for the fact that the VAFO is behind, with its support, the two films that have been screened at the gala, but also for what this means for the very nature of the projects, especially the short film: “We are building reserves,” he said.
And as a surprise fact, what happens in the context of the pandemic: “2021 is the year with the largest film production in Valladolid. Not only have we had a large volume of production, but also very important productions, such as Hombres G,” he mentioned.