29/4/2021.- The Valladolid International Film Festival will be celebrating during its 66th edition the 50th anniversary of A Clockwork Orange (1971), one of the most outstanding films by master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. In addition to its screening, the festival will organize additional events to commemorate that the film, banned by the Spanish dictatorship but also by several other European countries, held its first public screening in Spain four years later, during the 20th edition of Seminci. This Spanish premiere was surrounded by unprecedented expectation and controversy and required enormous security measures.
As the former director of the Valladolid Festival Carmelo Romero recalls in César Combarros’s book “50 años de la Semana Internacional de Cine de Valladolid (1956-2005). Una ventana al mundo”, the Festival was able to program Kubrick’s film for the first time in Spain when the General Directorate for Cinematography reached an agreement with Warner Española to release the movie in Valladolid.
A few days after the start of the edition, Stanley Kubrick himself refused to authorize the screening of his film in Valladolid. Warner Española sent one of its executives, Ángel Corvi, as a middleman to speak personally with Kubrick and try to convince him. “Corvi told him that it was not going to be shown at any film festival, but at the University. I wrote a letter in which I gave him the same explanation in writing and that’s how we got Kubrick’s OK, ” recollects Carmelo Romero.
The Festival scheduled two screening sessions, one at the now-disappeared Coca movie theatre and the other one at Teatro Carrión. “The expectation was enormous and all the university students of Valladolid, Madrid and other cities wanted to watch the film; they could only attend the screening at Carrión, since Coca was fully booked with subscribers. People queued for more than 24 hours, but the whole thing was pretty well organized by means of a turn-taking agreement: we only allowed two tickets per person,” explains Romero. “All forecasts were surpassed; there was this spectacular queue, surrounding the entire block, of people who came from everywhere and had spent the night before in the middle of the street, with sleeping bags.”
The full-house screening began under the surveillance of police agents standing on the theatre aisles in case it was necessary to control any subversive attitude from the audience. “Halfway through the screening the police called me. They told me there had been a bomb scare in the theatre. I said: “We are not stopping the screening, I take full responsibility.” I don’t think I would have done it today , but I was young and maybe thoughtless, and a sixth sense led me to make that choice ,” adds the former director of Seminci.
The commemoration of the half century of one of the world’s greatest film titles is part of the program of the Festival’s 66th edition will take place from October 23 to 30.