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Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen
Woody Allen brought Scar Jo and Penélope Cruz to the Catalonian capital for his 2008 flick Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Five reasons why Barcelona is a filmmaker’s paradise

One of the city’s emerging moviemakers teams up with SUPRA to offer his guide to the Catalonian capital’s vibrant film scene

“I’ve always had an urge to tell stories, even when I was child,” explains up-and-coming Barcelona filmmaker, SUPRA ambassador and #alwaysontherun advocate, Sergi Castellà. Inspired by the budget realism of John Cassavetes and the everyday romance of Jim Jarmusch, Castellà pays tribute to his hometown in much of his work – from television pilots and commercial projects to music videos, films for his motorcycling mates and the short movie he’s currently crafting. Though he moved to Los Angeles to study, he returned to his hometown to make a career out of filmmaking. “It’s got great architecture, weather, beautiful women, smooth skateable floors, nice food and the beach,” he says proudly.

There’s a vibrant independent film scene too, exciting film festivals, stunning locations, acclaimed film schools and a raft of local talent, with some of the city’s greatest exponents making waves all the way to Hollywood. When he’s not making movies, he’s skating, blending individuality and creativity out on the street, taking the same fearless approach that he does in the studio. In conjunction with SUPRA and their #alwaysontherun campaign to celebrate creativity, we asked Castellà to take us on a cinephile’s tour to one of the world’s most vibrant cities.

THERE ARE PLENTY OF WAYS TO SEE A FILM

There are plenty of ways to catch a movie in Barcelona – from the intimate to the epic. “Zumzeig is a like a bistro, it’s a new concept. It’s got a cinema and a very nice projection room and then it’s got a restaurant where you can have a beer before and after a movie and a place to meet with people who have the same interests as you and have chats,” says Castellà. If you’re after something a little grander, then check out the cult Phenomena project, which began life as a pop-up. They started screening old movies from the 1980s and 1990s once a month, like Terminator and Back To The Future. Everybody would go and it was kind of a party. It got bigger and now it’s weekly and they have their own cinema where you can go every day of the week and watch old movies,” he adds.

IT’S GIVING CANNES A RUN FOR ITS MONEY

The city and its surrounding area has long been a hotbed for film festivals. Running since 1967 is the famous Sitges Film Festival, which celebrates fantastical and horror cinema. “It takes place 30 minutes away from Barcelona on the beach – it’s really fun and cool,” says Castellà. D’A – otherwise known as Festival Internacional de Cinema D'Autor – is a place to check out the latest in auteur cinema, as well as being a favourite of Castellà. There’s also L'Alternativa, which is similar to D’A, shines a light on a selection of cinema made in Barcelona.

IT’S GOT SOME SERIOUS PRODUCTION POWERHOUSES

One of the most renowned music and commercial production houses in the world was born in Barcelona. “CANADA pulled attention to production houses in Barcelona on a global scale,” says Castellà of the cult company, founded in 2008. “It all started with the music video for 'Bombay' that they made for the musician El Guincho, which is a very Tumblr-ish music video. It’s very conceptual. They make poetry. They use a lot of metaphors and they’re not very narrative but they created a style that everyone followed worldwide.” Since then, the collective of directors and producers have made videos for everyone from Phoenix to She & Him, as well a working on a host of high end ads.

IT’S TRAINING UP THE NEXT GENERATION OF CINEMA MAVERICKS

“There are a lot of people working hard and making great stuff here – big directors like Isabel Coixet or JA Bayona and new ones like Carlos Marques Marcet or Sergi Perez,” says Castellá, but alongside this already established raft of talent, it’s a great place for newcomers to learn the craft of movie making, with the option to study in traditional settings and slightly more leftfield institutions.

ESCAC is the main, most popular film school in Catalonia,” says Castellà. “We have great directors and directors of photography who’ve studied there. Bayona studied there, he’s made a lot of great movies (The Orphanage, The Impossible) and Eduard Grau, the DOP, he studied there too (Buried, The Awakening). He was the director of photography for Tom Ford’s movie A Single Man.” For those who want a more independent approach, there’s Bande à Part, named after the Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 nouvelle vague masterpiece. “It’s got a different way of teaching cinema. If ESCAC is a little more technical, where you learn technique, at Bande à Part they teach you how to be creative in filmmaking.”

IT’S, QUITE SIMPLY, ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES IN THE WORLD

Though it’s the perfect place to make a movie, Castellà points out that there isn’t much backing to be found locally when it comes to filmmaking – that comes from outsiders. American director Woody Allen filmed with Scar Jo and Penélope Cruz for his 2008 feature Vicky Cristina Barcelona – showcasing the city’s pure beauty on the silver screen. “Even though there’s not a lot of investment in the film industry here, there’s a lot of people that come from abroad to shoot because we have amazing location,” he reveals. “The city is beautiful – we have amazing beaches, we have mountains an hour ride from Barcelona, we have a desert a two hour drive away, everything you need!”

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