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Iberia, April 21

49th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

Friday, April 21, 2006
4:45 p.m. Iberia
Carlos Saura (Spain/France, 2005)

With Iberia, Carlos Saura once again signals his position as the master of cinema as performance. The beauty of his method, as displayed in Flamenco (SFIFF 1996) and then Tango (1998), is in the fact that the dance sequences are not merely produced for film; instead, they only exist as film. Rather than taking canned dance numbers and recreating them onstage, Saura brings all of the elements of cinema to bear, incorporating choreography of the camera, sound design, color, perspective, and multimedia into his work. Each element has its place but all act in unison to produce a whole movement of stunning beauty. Saura doesn't just make dance films, he makes films dance. In Iberia, Saura revisits one of his prime fascinations, the Gypsy life of southern Spain, through the lens of renowned composer Isaac Albéniz. The music is adapted from Albéniz's Iberia suite, broken down by geographical region, like a tour through the peninsula and its varied attitudes. The styles of music and performance run the gamut of traditional and contemporary Spanish forms, ranging from flamenco to ballet to tango to modern dance. Included in this star-studded ensemble of who's who in contemporary Spanish music and dance are Aída Gómez, the elegant and powerful ballet dancer featured in Saura's Salomé (2002), and Enrique Morente, the unparalleled innovator of flamenco composition. For anyone interested in exploring the vast potential of cinematic beauty, this film is a must-see.

—Sean Uyehara

• Written by Saura. Photographed by José Luis López Linares. With Sara Baras, Antonio Canales, Manolo Sanlúcar, Enrique Morente. (99 mins)