Covering everything from the major news of the week and burning social issues, to expat living and la vida local, EL PAÍS’ team of English-language bloggers offers its opinions, observations and analysis on Spain and beyond.

Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

Seville says goodbye to its beloved Duchess

Por: | 25 de noviembre de 2014

Last week Seville was plunged into mourning when one of the city’s most beloved and iconic figures, the Duquesa de Alba, passed away at the age of 88. Sad but not unexpected, her end was just as she wished, at home surrounded by friends and family, and the loss has left a massive rift in the city’s soul.

The Duchess of Alba, who died last week aged 88.

Cayetana, as she was known, was not your typical aristocrat – she was an individualist, free-spirited, someone who forged her own path. The most titled noble in the world, she didn’t have the airs and graces of most high-born – she liked mixing with normal Sevillian folk, and was known for her flamboyant personal style: colourful print dresses worn with ankle bracelets and flowers in her wild grey candy-floss hair (“soy un poco hippyosa”, she said). She was pictured wearing bikinis at the beach well into her 80s. Her preferred residence was the historic Palacio de la Dueñas in Seville rather than the much grander Liria Palace in Madrid where she was born and grew up, and lived during her first marriage. She loved Seville with a passion which endeared her forever to its natives, and always said she felt most at home in the city.

Happy to fight against convention, Cayetana learned to dance flamenco when it was considered highly inappropriate for a young noblewoman, befriending gypsies, hanging out with artists (Picasso wanted to paint her in the nude), and marrying an illegitimate ex-Jesuit priest after her first husband died, positively scandalous in 1970s Spain. When the Duquesa declared her intention to marry for a third time, to a civil servant 25 years her junior (the public view was “Good for you, Cayetana”), her children were dead set against the match, only relenting when she agreed to divide up her estate before the wedding, to ensure that Alfonso Diez, her third husband, didn’t get his mitts on their inheritance. She and Alfonso enjoyed three happy years of marriage, and they travelled together extensively, although her health was failing this year and she hadn’t been seen out much, even missing this year’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Feria.

The Duquesa and her family were rarely out of the press and TV gossip programmes, usually for her children’s divorces and dalliances. But the Spanish public are suckers for a tragic heroine – just look at the obsessive, 24-hour coverage of singer Isabel Pantoja as she starts her two-year prison sentence for money laundering. The Duquesa, while being phenomenally wealthy (estimates range from 600 million to 3.5 billion euros) and living to a ripe old age, did not have an easy life in personal terms. Her mother died when she was eight, her father when she was 27, and her first husband when she was 46 leaving her with six children. Having lost one husband to leukemia, her second succumbed to cancer. That’s more tragedy than most of us have to deal with in a lifetime.

Funeral wreaths from Betis Football Club and Los Gitanos hermandad. / F. FLORES WATSON

 As a massive aficionado of bullfighting, flamenco and Semana Santa, the Sevillanos were bound to take her to their heart. Her first ever boyfriend was a bullfighter, and they remained friends until he died. Her daughter Eugenia, her youngest and most adored child, married a handsome young matador, and even after they divorced, Cayetana remained on very good terms with her ex-son in law, often attending his corridas – indeed he and his girlfriend were guests at her wedding three years ago, where he was pictured dancing with the delighted bride. Their relationship soured during a custody battle over her granddaughter, also called Cayetana, and his absence at her funeral was noted.

Cayetana’s favoured hermandad (brotherhood) in Seville’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) was Los Gitanos, whose church’s restoration she paid for; she rarely missed their procession on La Madrugada (Holy Thursday night). Los Gitanos’ wreath adorned her hearse, and in accordance with her wishes, the Duquesa’s remains were placed in their temple on Friday evening, after the funeral service in the cathedral. This week, the church had to ask people to stop bringing flowers as they couldn’t cope with the avalanche of floral tributes.

Members of the public watch as the Duchess's funeral procession passes. / P. PUENTES

Another aspect of Sevilla which she loved, was football – she was a big fan of Betis football club. And of course, she loved flamenco – I went to a performance in honour of Camilla Duchess of Cornwall which Cayetana attended. They had met previously at Buckingham Palace, and two Duchesses watching flamenco was a gossip mag dream.  Afterwards the Duquesa greeted the audience in her usual friendly fashion.

I had interviewed her previously, finding her to be a intelligent and cultured woman with a great sense of humour who, despite a voice slowed and slurred by illness, had a youthful spirit. She attended boarding school in England, which she didn’t enjoy very much, while her father was Spanish ambassador, and told me in her perfect English that she loved Claridges hotel in London, and shopping at Selfridges and Marks & Spencer. As an art aficionado, she visited Tate Britain and the National Gallery – her collection is Spain’s most important private one and includes works by Goya, Titian and Velazquez, to which Cayetana herself added Renoir, Chagall and Picasso. Charmed by our conversation, I became increasingly fascinated by her and stood outside her palace on the day of her wedding for hours in the heat with hordes of fans. After a long, hot wait we were rewarded when she came out of her palace, kicked off her shoes and danced flamenco in front of the assembled masses. They – we – were in thrall to this small, slight, octogenarian woman, with such a fierce personality and strong will.

Stairs down
Devotees wait to pay their respects in Seville's Ayuntamiento. / F. FLORES WATSON

But the Sevillanos’ love for her showed most of all immediately after she died last week. The largest state room of the Ayuntamiento, Salon Colon where civil weddings are held, was used as the “capilla ardiente”, where people come to pay their respects. The Duquesa was laid out in her coffin covered with the flags of Spain and the House of Alba. In less than 24 hours a staggering 80,000 people came to bid her farewell and sign the books of condolence. She was carried out of the Ayuntamiento, accompanied by her family and close friends, to a respectfully silent massed rank of press and public in Plaza Nueva. As the procession made its way down a packed Avenida de la Constitucion to the Cathedral, ripples of applause went through the crowd, with shouts of “Guapa!” and “La queremos mucho y a toda la familia!” (We love you very much and all the family.)

Inside the basilica, under the soaring arches of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, there were banks of TV screens for the public to watch the funeral mass, and Carlos Amigo Vallejo, former Archbishop Cardinal of Seville, declared the Duquesa to be “noble por herencia y muy, muy noble por corazon” (noble by birth and very, very noble of heart) to the 3,000 friends, family and public in attendance, including Doña Elena, sister of King Felipe. Her widower Alfonso, standing next to his son-in-law, Carlos, now 19th Duke of Alba, couldn’t contain his tears. He was widely considered to have restored her joie de vivre, taking holidays with her to Thailand, Egypt and Paris, always by her side and always paying close attention to her every need. He looked utterly bereft.

The funeral
Inside the Cathedral during the Duchess' funeral. / P. PUENTES

The 19th Duke of Alba released a statement on behalf of the family this week, thanking the people of Seville for showing “such deep affection at such a painful time". He went on to say that he would “never forget the profound love which the Sevillanos have shown for my mother the Duchess of Alba both during her life and her death”.

While she was largely adored by people in Seville, the Duchess was not without her detractors. She was one of Spain’s most important terratenientes (landowners) – she had 34,000 hectares, and it is said you could cross Spain from south to north without leaving her lands. A certain proportion of this land was not cultivated, yet she received three million euros a year in EU subsidies, a situation considered grossly unfair by many in Andalucia where about 40% of the population lives below the poverty line.

The Duquesa was accused by the leader of SAT, the Andalucian trade union of jornaleros (day farm labourers, who don’t have work contracts and are paid by the day), of irregularities in her labour force and EU subsidies, and Social Security fraud. She responded by suing him for libel. When she was made an Hija Predilecta de Andalucia, the jornaleros took to the streets in protest, and a statue of her in Seville was vandalised twice shortly after being unveiled.

Another person who had little admiration for Cayetana was Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, the mayor of communist village Marinaleda. He has advocated, and carried out, occupations of unused land in Andalucia, including hers, since the 1980s. Her youngest son Cayetano received major flack when he declared in TV interview that Andalucian youth “had no desire to progress”, unlike in northern or central Spain. Since youth unemployment was around 45% at the time, his comments were seen as especially obtuse. The Duchess was furious with Cayetano, managed to carry out some swift damage limitation by declaring that she was “more Andalucian than anyone”, thereby diluting the effect of his words.

In a recent interview, this eccentric, bohemian aristocrat said she wanted to be remembered most of all as a sevillana. It is beyond doubt that in this warm-blooded southern city, the 18th Duquesa de Alba, Maria de del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, will never be forgotten.

One dog and six puppies: be careful what you wish for

Por: | 14 de noviembre de 2014

Once upon a time there was an English woman living in Seville who dreamed of having a dog. But every where she looked she saw grey concrete, areas of dust passing themselves off as parks, and the sad sight of dogs crouching embarrassedly as they do their business on narrow pavements. And so the aforementioned English woman, sensibly decided not to have a dog or puppy, after all, dogs are meant for running through green pastures, bottoms in air and noses to the ground as they follow the scent of a rabbit or some such wild creature of the region.

Sometimes though she played at owning a dog, looking after a furry friend for a weekend while its owner was away, or taking others for walks when their owner couldn’t. But this just further acted to cement her position, until one fateful day when on just such an occasion of walking an incapacitated friend’s dogs, she came across a terrified, disorientated stray bitch, wandering lost on one of the main thoroughfares circumnavigating the city centre. What to do? Turn a blind eye and walk on? Or pick the little thing up, tuck her under her arm and save her from getting squished by the passing traffic.


You may have gathered by now that I am that woman. And as I’m writing this piece, it’s not difficult to figure out the decision I made. What you won’t guess however is how I went from picking up one little dog from the streets of Seville, who is incidentally called Sunday, to now having 7 of them in my two bedroom flat. You see, dear sweet Sunday, little more than a puppy herself at just one year old, was about month pregnant, and after much soul searching and attempts to track down any owners, I decided to bite the bullet, give Sunday a roof over her head, and somewhere warm and safe to have her puppies.

Dog abandonment is a serious animal welfare issue in Spain. The social networks are rammed with animal shelters trying to find homes for every variety of canine who has found itself homeless and more often than not badly treated and neglected. Even those that are lucky enough to belong to a loving home, experience a very un-Anglo Saxon style of animal welfare, where leads are frowned on and running wild in public spaces and on the city’s streets is de rigueur. This laissez-faire style of dog discipline comes at a price, one being a greater likelihood to find yourself squishing a freshly laid dog poo as the owner is no where to be seen, or more seriously can lead to extra incidences of unwanted pregnancies as dogs are left to ´socialise´ with each other without any supervision from their owners.


At just over a month since finding Sunday, my life has been transformed. No more lie-ins until 10am, if I want to find my flat puddle free, it’s a matter of pulling on my tracksuit bottoms, throwing on a coat and stuffing my pockets full of plastic bags with a view to pounding those cobbled streets until she’s done what she needs to do and I scrape up any left over evidence. You see dog walking has become a rather functional activity, I couldn’t understand it in the past when I saw uninterested looking owners wandering the streets without a particular destination. But now I get it, in darkness at 7am in the morning or indeed last thing at night, the last thing on your mind is a nice stroll, it’s more a matter of ´let’s get this over and done with´ so I can get on with my day or go to bed.

But it’s not all doggie doom. Thanks to Sunday, I’m now part of a whole community I didn’t know existed. For one I’m now ´intimate amiga´ with all the doggie walking fraternity, from the widowed grandmother who lives for her Yorkshire terrier to the working class couple from the corner shop who regale me stories of their bull mastiffs. And when you throw taking in an abandoned pregnant dog into the equation, I’m practically a local celebrity. And that’s without even mentioning the joy that this precious little creature has brought to my life, from her total adaption to co-habiting with me, the ubiquitous rousing welcomes whenever I’ve been away from home, even if it’s just for ten minutes, to the privileged front row seat to the birth of her six puppies with all the accompanying miracles of nature. I wouldn’t change a thing.

2014-11-12 00.32.45
But the fact of the matter is that I am an English woman, living in a two bedroom flat in Seville with a dog named Sunday and six week old puppies, all of whom need re-homing before Christmas.

So this blog post is a personal plea, please spread the word of my quest, it’s a tough one, but not impossible. Join my group, share it with friends, and help me find these little cuties loving homes.

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If you´re interested and want more information about the puppies, check out the group on Facebook:





And so the Catalans voted and the heavens didn’t fall, Artur Mas did not levitate above the Palau de la Generalitat, grow horns or perform miracles, Spain didn’t collapse and the Spanish Destroyer allegedly moored just off the Catalan coast did not rain down death and destruction on us all.

In fact, what was maybe most striking about the vote on the 9th of November was how boringly normal it all was, just like any old vote back in Britain.

Our polling station was situated just around the corner from the Palau de la Música in central Barcelona, a helpful reminder of both Catalan architectural ingenuity and - as the centre of a recent financial scandal - the fact that Catalan leaders can disappoint like the worst of them (a useful thing to keep in mind during any political process, I find).

The lead up to the vote had been so long and engrossing that I was expecting fireworks, fights and electoral fury. 

What I got instead was two tables of tired looking volunteers, a photographer and some flimsy paper ballot boxes. My intention of voting secretly went right out the window when I realised there were no booths or even shady corners to retire to. So, in best school child fashion, I screened my piece of paper from infringing eyes by use of some judicious elbows and made my choice.

I’m not going to tell you how I voted. But I will say that the decision wasn’t easy. Nor was it helped by the rather vague question posed.

The ballot asked: a) Do you want Catalonia to become a State? (Yes/No); if you answer yes, there is a second question: b) Do you want this State to be independent? (Yes/No)

I surely can’t be alone in thinking this question is rather rather unhelpful. For what, after all, is a state? There is, apparently, no working legal definition. So Catalonia could, as far as I understand, simply call itself a state with no one able to prove it isn’t.

Maybe this sounds like nitpicking. Maybe it is: a Yes / Yes vote is obviously a vote for an independent Catalonia. A No vote backs the status quo.

But I’m a pedantic Brit and, among all the people I’ve talked to about the Catalan vote, no one has been able to explain exactly what a Yes / No vote - backing a Catalan state that isn’t independent - would mean. A Federal Spain, maybe? Or Catalonia becoming equivalent to Scotland or Wales within the UK - that is a country within a country?

Perhaps this ambiguity is fitting. After all, the whole vote has rather been defined by such uncertainty. Did Catalonia hold a referendum on November 9? A consultation? A poll? A survey? 

I’m still not really sure, with language being batted forward and back between the Catalan and Spanish parliaments like a particularly depressing game of tennis.

As I left the polling station I was struck again by how mundane the whole process had been. And then the thought struck: isn’t that just how it should be?

One of my favourite campaign slogans in the run up to the vote was “Votar és normal” - to vote is normal. It perfectly sums up how many Catalans see the independence movement: not necessarily for or against but eager to exercise their right to decide their own future, as is normal in a democracy.

And this was how the vote felt for me: normal, boring even, with little to raise the heartbeat above a gentle skip. This was just another vote, on another Sunday in another mundane school hall, just like you’ve done before and will do so again.

But isn’t that just the point? Voting on our future is what we do in democratic Europe. That’s not scandal, revelation or impudence. It’s the way things are. Boringly - and wonderfully - enough.


Tapeando in Madrid

Por: | 07 de noviembre de 2014

 It´s Saturday and I am preparing to go bar and restaurant hopping. In normal circumstances this would be just another weekend in Madrid for me. These, however, aren´t normal circumstances. I have decided to put myself in the hands of the professionals: I have signed up for an evening with the Madrid Food Tour. I have chosen their Tapas, Taverns & History Tour, currently boasting a whopping 296 five star ratings on The company has carved out a reputation as the people to see if you want an introduction to Madrid and its fantastic food. As well as the evening tapas tour they have two daytime tours, visiting bakeries, traditional markets, specialty shops and other treats in Madrid. Having always been something of a night owl, I have elected the tapas tour.  

Before the tour starts I grab a quick caña with James Blick, a partner and guide for Madrid Food Tour. He is affable, engaging and full of interesting anecdotes. In the course of our thirty minute conversation a wealth of topics are covered from the civil war´s unexpected coffee-changing legacy to why Spanish nuns use almond floor when they are baking. His passion for Madrid shines through, never more than when lamenting the loss of one of his favourite seafood places to the chain Lizarran: “Local bars are the culture of Madrid. Lizarran isn´t.”

 The beer comes with a small sausage as a tapa.  It winks up at me from the table whist we talk. I´m starving but I resist the temptation. I am saving myself for the tour.

 At 7:20 I make my way the Plaza Isabel II to meet up with Debbie, our guide for the evening. Resplendent in a natty red bag, with matching red scarf and lipstick she makes an immediate good impression. We meet the rest of the tour-ists. A couple from England over to celebrate a 30th birthday, a couple from Amsterdam a couple of friends from Canada, and the lovely antipodean Leisha, who is on paparazzi duties tonight.

After brief introductions we repair to the Taberna Real. Good news for me as my stomach is rumbling mutinously. It´s a grand old place; a mighty chandelier hangs from the ceiling and a royal harp and other artifacts from the Spanish court help to set the scene. We begin with a glass of vermouth, followed by some delicious Campo Real olives grown just outside of Madrid.  Then the waiter brings over two plates of jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn-fed Iberian ham) and the tour has begun. The ham melts in the mouth whilst Debbie explains, amongst other things, the eating habits of your average Madrileño, how to spot Iberian ham, and why the word "tapa" might have it´s origins in the actions of a quick-thinking Spanish waiter.

We finish up and go for a walk through the streets of Madrid. We make our way to the Royal Palace, a nearby busker strums Neil Young´s Heart of Gold in a decent stab at an Canadian accent. Darkness is descending and the palace is beautifully lit. It makes for a formidable backdrop as we have a brief philosophical discussion on when a room is a room and when it isn´t. (Debbie explains that the palace is described as having anything from 2500 – 3200 rooms, with no-one apparently able to agree on a fixed number.)

Calle_del_Codo_(Madrid)_01We continue to wind our way through the streets passing the possible burial place of Velasquez and Madrid´s beautiful old council house and jail in Plaza de La Villa. A small detour down the fantastically named Calle del Codo (Elbow Street) takes us past a nunnery whose occupants, Debbie explains, have received special papal dispensation to make and sell biscuits.  

Our next port of call is a restaurant that specialises in mushroom tapas. As we walk in a waiter with a smart white suit and an air of gentle melancholy catches the eye. This may or not be because a portrait of a younger (if not chirpier) version of himself hangs from one of the walls. In the backroom a doleful fifty-something plays eighties hits on an old electric organ. His version of A-ha´s Take on Me is a personal highlight. It is, needless to say, a brilliant place.

The mushrooms, cooked with olive oil, parsley, garlic, lemon, salt and chorizo are dynamite and washed down beautifully with Tinto de Verano. (Red wine and gently flavoured soda water.) Before we leave Leisha grabs the opportunity to take some photos of the barstaff. In contrast to the waiter and organist they are all smiles and pose happily as Leisha snaps away.

After the mushrooms we cross the road to a family run bar that has been serving Madrileños since 1867. Two brothers, who could scarcely look less alike, serve us boquerones (unsalted anchovies) filleted and marinated by their mother. We drink a delicious dry white albarín and then follow up with some off-menu homemade meatballs.



Soon enough it is time to move on to our next port of call. We pass through more of Madrid, including the restaurant where Goya once worked as a dishwasher. Debbie has been living in Madrid for four years and works as a food blogger. Experience she uses to deftly keep us entertained with a mixture of Madrid´s history and personal insights.

The penultimate stop is Casa del Abuelo. Their speciality is prawns fried with their own olive oil, garlic, guindilla peppers, parsley and salt. Like a lot of Spanish food it is simple, but delicious. It stands on the raw quality of the ingredients as much as the skill of the chefs. We drink a sweet slightly fortified red wine made with grapes from a vineyard owned and run by the propietators.  It initially seems an odd combination but turns out to be just what the doctor ordered.


Finally we end in Casa Toni, a cosy bar in the heart of Sol. We take a well-earned seat. Debbie orders us some drinks and the food keeps on coming. Pimientos de Padrón, marinated pork, patatas bravas, sweetbreads and to finish some biscuits cooked my barefooted nuns in Jaen. It seems that Spanish nuns like to cook biscuits. We have a good-natured chat around the table and before we know it, it´s time to leave.

Astonishingly four and a half hours have passed. The time has flown by and I leave stuffed, satisfied and with a great new set of places, facts and stories for when friends and family come to visit. 


I went to meet a very impressive woman this week: Sandra Seeling Lipski. She is the founder and director of the Evolution Film Festival which is held next week in Majorca.  The festival will feature movies and documentaries (long and short) in English or subtitled in English, which have been created by film makers from all over the world. Sandra was born in Berlin, grew up in Majorca and then moved to New York and then LA to study and then work professionally in the acting and film making industry.

So why did you decide to start a film festival back on your island? “When I started I was 27 and very naïve and I just did it. An innocent! This thought had occurred to me why isn’t there a film festival in Majorca? Why not, it’s the perfect place, it’s central in Europe, the connections to get here are amazing. I just thought: I’m just going to do it, and that’s pretty much what I did. I’d never even done an event before, I just had that feeling that I needed to do this. My parents live in Majorca, and my brother has a business here as well so I was coming here regularly anyway, so I thought why not just bring a bit my LA life with me?

“The first year went pretty well: we had around 450 guests. I thought nobody would come, but somehow these people found about it, and it was a very international audience. And then I started to have people contact me asking if we would be doing a second year, even I wasn’t sure. But then I thought, okay, let’s do it again, and we had 1500 guests. The positive response was just overwhelming. There was a real festival spirit. People would go to the cinema and watch the movies and then go to the bar afterwards and talk about the films. It’s a conversation that gets started, which I love. And then meet up again and talk over coffee at the free morning events that we do. We will be doing some at Rialto Living this year: directors come, actors come and you can talk to them and be in this very casual environment and meet people that maybe you have always wanted to talk to. So I created these little get togethers and brought all of these movies here and somehow it just blossomed.

Tone Adsero, Director of Hotel Cort, Esperanza Crespí and Sandra Seeling

It’s not easy to do something like this is it?
“Of course, there’s also been the point where I’ve thought, well maybe I’m going to have to quit as there’s not enough money and not enough help and this, and this, and this. But somehow, it kind of just wanted to happen again. We have a fantastic new graphic designer who has come on board who has helped us to revamp our new logo and look, and that has helped us to attract new private sponsors who are really important. This year we have Hotel Cort sponsoring the rooms for the film makers, they are making it possible for them to have accommodation whilst they are here. We have Mercedes who are doing all of the transport for us, Rialto Living who are hosting the Café con Cine mornings. The Ayuntamiento have given us twenty bus stops where we can put our posters. And we have a fantastic relationship with the people at Teatro Principal, and Cine Ciutat. They love us and support us, it’s pretty amazing. They love the event, that’s it is young people and that it’s fresh and new. I’m not there yet where I want it to be, I need to be able to have a budget to pay the people who work on the festival next year so we’re looking for 2015 sponsors.”

Helium, the Oscar winner for Best short film 2014, showing at the festival.

What’s the process? “I start to choose the movies in March, and then come over to Majorca in May and speak to the sponsors, and then I come back for the six weeks prior to the festival. And I also organise the Los Angeles edition of the festival which is terrific promotion for the island, it introduces the island to film makers who may come over here and shoot a movie.”

How do you choose the movies? “The first year we had about 100 submissions, the second 150 and this year we’ve topped out at 230 submissions. I watch them all and choose from the programme from this. In this year’s festival we have 43 films! We have feature films, short films and documentaries, so we have a bit of everything. It’s an international festival. We are going to show three movies from local Majorcan film makers: Pep Bonet, Toni Bestard and Nofre Moyà. The films fall under the theme of “Cultural Differences”, how our society treats senior citizens, our relationships between humans and animals and nature, the power of music and an extensive offer of genres including drama, comedy, suspense and musicals.   They are all unique, and forty of the films are premiering for the first time in Spain. I chose them because they are socially and environmentally relevant, that touch upon themes which are in the news right now. ”

Druid Peak. The festival's opening film. PHOTO CREDIT Evolution Film Festival
What can we do to help?
“We’ve created this festival for you, please talk about it, get involved, come to the screenings, tell other people about it, make it yours, it’s for you”.

There will be a “warm up screening” on Sunday November 2nd at Es Baluard. The festival officially opens on November 6th with a gala at Teatro Principal. The festival screenings are all at Cine Ciutat until November 10th. There will be three “Café con cine” meetings at Rialto Living on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the festival. You can see the full programme of the Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival and buy your festival tickets online at Tickets are 5€ or you can buy a festival pass for the entire event for €45. To read more articles about people on the island visit 

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only English language daily paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki. 

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