Juan José Ballesta

  • Antonio Mercero – Planta 4ª aka The 4th Floor (2003)

    2001-2010Antonio MerceroComedyDramaSpain

    With Slaughterhouse 5 Kurt Vonnegut revealed that humour can be exploited in two ways: to make people roll over the floor laughing and to underscore the graveness of earnest problems. While Antonio Mercero’s Spanish dramatic comedy Planta 4ª (The 4th Floor) doesn’t tackle WWII but “only” possibly terminally ill children, its use of humour is similar. While it would be harsh to nickname the film Slaughterhouse 4 (the young patients of the cancer ward on the titular fourth floor all have at least one amputated limb), it shares with Vonnegut its exploitation of laughter in the face of the incomprehensible, or indeed the only sane way to confront the inexplicable madness of disease and death.Read More »

  • Achero Mañas – El Bola AKA Pellet (2000)

    1991-2000Achero MañasDramaSpain

    El Bola, a 12 year old boy a.k.a. “Pellet” is a 12 year old boy raised in a violent and sordid environment. Embarrassed by his family life, he avoids becoming close to classmates. The arrival of a new boy at school changes his attitude towards his classmates, and friendship. The heart of the story is the change in El Bola’s life, at almost all levels, after befriending this new classmate.Read More »

  • Alberto Rodríguez – 7 vírgenes AKA 7 Virgins (2005)

    2001-2010Alberto RodríguezDramaSpain


    A 48-hour leave from reform school brings life lessons for the teenage protagonist of “7 Virgins,” a street-kids piece that combines energy and delicacy to striking and subtle effect. The best Spanish movie of its type since Fernando Leon’s 1998 “Barrio,” pic rises above genre standard with scrupulous attention to detail and an engaging central tandem. Downsides are lapses into sentimentality and visual deja vu, and an occasional inability to exploit the emotional potential. “Virgins” should snuggle up in plenty of fest beds, with arthouse interest a certainty in Spain-friendly territories.

    Sixteen-year-old Tano (Juan Jose Ballesta from “Pellet” and “4th Floor”) is picked up from the Seville reform school by his ultra-taciturn brother Santacana (Vicente Romero), who warns Tano to avoid trouble. But once Tano gets back in touch with his irrepressible buddy, wide-grinning Richi (Jesus Carroza), within minutes, they are on the run in a shopping mall after stealing a wallet to buy a TV set — a wedding-gift for Santacana.Read More »

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