Rundown: Films you can watch for free at the 2023 Spanish Film Festival

Press conference of the Instituto Cervantes Manila for the Spanish Film Festival 2023 in Shangri-La Plaza on Sept. 26, 2023 (Interaksyon/Jeline Malasig)

The public can enjoy more than 20 recent and critically acclaimed films from Spain and Ibero-American countries for free at the 22nd edition of “Pelicula: Spanish Film Festival.”

The annual film fest kicked off the ten-day festival on Thursday, October 5 with the screening of the multi-awarded rural drama “As Bestas” (The Beasts) by Goya-winning director Rodrigo Sorogoyen at Shangri-La Plaza.

The film fest is a project by the Instituto Cervantes Manila that has been around since 2002.

It is an annual celebration of cinema in the Spanish language which showcases motion pictures by significant filmmakers from Spain and Ibero-American countries.

For this year, 23 films handpicked by Instituto Cervantes Manila will be featured in Shangri-La Plaza’s Red Carpet Theatre from October 5 to 15.

These include the movies under the “Pelicula en Verde” program, which allows viewers to contribute to saving the environment.

RELATED: Watch a movie, save the environment at the Spanish Film Fest 2023. Here’s how

Seven films will also be available for streaming online from October 11 to 15.

Similar to previous editions, this year’s film program was carefully curated and selected from a range of genres, including drama, comedy, horror, thriller, family, musicals and animation.

Pelicula 2023 will also feature the Cinemalaya award-winning short film “Hinakdal” by Arvin Belarmino, which won Best Screenplay, the Audience Choice Award and the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award.

Meanwhile, here is the list of films that can be watched for the film fest’s 22nd edition:


Set in 1976 Chile during Pinochet’s dictatorship, a doctor’s wife, Carmen, reluctantly shelters a wounded political agitator, guided by Padre Sanchez’s Christian charity. This seemingly simple act becomes a perilous journey.


The Solé family, known for their annual peach-picking tradition in Alcarràs, faces eviction due to plans to replace their orchard with solar panels. This divides the close-knit family, putting their cherished tradition and future at stake.

Arquitectura emocional 1959

This is the love story of Sebas and Andrea, first-time university students in the 1958-1959 academic year. Here is how social class and ideology become insurmountable obstacles.

Cinco lobitos

Amaia, a new mother facing unexpected challenges, seeks help from her parents in a coastal Basque village when her partner is away for work. In the process, she rediscovers the enduring role of being their daughter.


A musician seeking their roots arrives in San Basilio de Palenque, the Americas’ first free city. There, they meet Rafael Cassiani, a master of the ancient Palenquero musical tradition.

Together, they uncover the true story of Benkos Biohó, an African slave who rebelled and escaped to find Palenque, presented in a docu-fantasy format.

El cuarto pasajero

To solve a cash problem, a 50-year-old man uses a car-sharing app. Problems result when he adds, to the woman he has been regularly picking up, several other passengers.

El Olivo

Alma, 20, works at a chicken farm in the village of Canet, Castellon, Spain. She shares a deep bond with her silent Grandfather, who now refuses food.

To save him, Alma becomes fixated on a mission — recovering the family’s two-thousand-year-old olive tree, sold against his will 12 years ago.

El rey de todo el mundo

Manuel, a theater creator, joins forces with his ex-wife, Sara, to stage a musical. Ines, a rising star dealing with family and local mob issues, joins the cast.

As rehearsals heat up, fueled by vibrant Mexican music, the play blurs the lines between tragedy. fiction, and reality.


Manolo’s obsession with Lola, a captivating artist, leads to his downfall. Lola’s international success in flamenco mirrors Manolo’s decline into alcoholism. However, the powerful bond between them prompts Lola to return to Spain to reunite with her relentless admirer.

Empieza el baile

The reunion of three friends, among tango, dance, music and the opportunity of a trip that will take them as in their good old days to travel the route of the country.


Cloe and her grandfather share a fondness for sounds, which they sense, admire, absorb, and catalog.

Girasoles silvestres

Julia, a young mother of two, falls for troubled Óscar. As their. relationship deepens, Julia questions if he’s the right fit for her and her family, sparking a personal quest for happiness.

Goya en Burdeos

Renowned artist Francisco de Goya reflects on his turbulent career, stormy relationships, and the decline of Spain during his final days in exile amid a war of independence.

La consagración de la primavera

Laura has just arrived in Madrid to study at University. One night, she accidentally meets David, who has cerebral palsy.

The relationship with the boy and his mother will give Laura the push she needs to overcome her complexes and insecurities and confidently enter a new phase.

This is a story about that vital moment when anything is possible and how the most unexpected encounters can change our lives.

La vida padre

Mikel, an aspiring chef, is visited by his long-lost father, Juan, who is eccentric and unpredictable. Their reunion challenges Mikel’s cooking and life philosophies at a crucial juncture in his career.

Llegaron de noche

In 1989, during the Salvadoran civil war, six Jesuit priests were murdered at UCA University.

Lucía, a cleaning employee, witnesses the real killers, the army, contradicting the government’s blame on guerrillas. Now, she must choose between truth and her family’s safety.

Modelo 77

In 1977, at Barcelona’s Modelo Prison, Manuel, a young accountant facing an unjust sentence for embezzlement, joins forces with his cellmate Pino to support COPEL, a collective fighting for prisoner rights.

Their struggle for freedom rattles the Spanish prison system as they adapt to changing times. Inspired by true events, it’s a tale of friendship, solidarity, and freedom.


The story follows Ángel, a melancholic fumigator torn between two women, Angela and Mari.

Medem juxtaposes this passionate tale with the austere landscape of fiery red hills, creating a film that blends natural history and philosophy into a passionate exploration of love’s illogical power.

Una vida no tan simple

Isaías, once a promising architect, finds his dreams and life. deteriorating at age 40. Every decision he makes to improve his personal, professional, and family life only leads to further complications.


Valentina is fed up with her Down’s syndrome, convinced that it prevents her from making her dream true — becoming a trapeze artist. But a magical journey will reveal to her all that she is capable of doing.


In the secluded countryside, a zombie mother tries to raise her son as a normal child, even suppressing his meat cravings. Their peaceful life takes a violent turn when a human boy tries to steal their pet chicken.

Cría cuervos

In Madrid, orphan sisters Irene, Ana, and Maite are raised by their austere aunt Paulina and their mute, crippled grandmother after the deaths of their mother and their military father Anselmo. Ana is a melancholic girl, fascinated by death, after watching her mother having a painful death and her father dead in bed.

También la lluvia

A film crew led by director Sebastian and producer Costa comes to Bolivia to make a revisionist movie about Spanish imperialism. Alongside this narrative, real-life water privatization protests in 2000 disrupt Bolivia.

The film blurs fiction and reality, showing Latin America’s struggles.

Carlos Aduviri, playing a 15th-century native, joins water protests. Despite chaos, Sebastian stays determined to finish the film, offering a powerful exploration of imperialism and activism.

La española, la de Torres

Renowned artist Francisco de Goya reflects on his tumultuous career, stormy relationships, and the backdrop of Spain’s decline during his final days in exile amid a war of independence.

La flota de Indias

The discovery of America leads to the connection of two previously separate continents. This connection, enabled by the fleets of the Indies, one of history’s most successful naval systems, takes centuries to fully develop and kickstarts the process of global globalization.

Velázquez, el poder y el arte

Velázquez, throughout his life, pursued the favor of power. Starting in Seville and later at the court of King Felipe IV, he realized that his artistic success depended on his relationships with the powerful.

The questions remain: Why did he aspire to nobility? Was his art an end or a means? And most intriguingly, why did he keep his personal life hidden?

Admittance to the Spanish Film Festival is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

For updates and further details about the rest of the film fest entries, viewers can visit the Facebook and Instagram pages of Instituto Cervantes Manila and the website of Pelicula itself.

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