Friday, May 20, 2016

Interview with ALBERTO VALVERDE, Communications Officer at CinemaAttic


"CinemaAttic has that underground thing that makes it so distinctive"


Alberto came to Edinburgh to experience how the life would be living in a foreign country and he was quickly captivated by the city. "There must be something in this city because this is exactly what has happened to many people" - he claims. He is part of the team who monthly brings a selection of short-films in Spanish in Edinburgh and Glasgow. A project that started in an attic with a reduced group of people is now becoming a reference in the cultural life of these two cities.  This is CinemaAttic. 

Why Edinburgh? How did you end up in this city?
Well, in a way it was a premature choice, I wanted to live the experience of living in a foreign country as soon as possible. Summer camps or Erasmus programs were not that attractive to me, I wanted to go somewhere I wouldn't know anyone at all, no friends or relatives and start a long term experience from the very scratch. That was the initial idea, then, of course there was a woman, I had to get back to Spain for my fourth year at Uni and tried to postpone until November that I finally did. After eight fantastic months back in Madrid I realised that despite all I had, I wanted to wake up in that misty grey charming town called Edinburgh. You cannot say it was the case of someone forced to leave. After the 2011 experience I just felt this must be the place, so I finally settled down here by June 2012.

Is your work connected with cinema?  
Somehow I guess. Or I rather want to see it that way. I am currently relocating my career, after studying a Masters degree in International Politics at University of Strathclyde last year, I am trying to find the way to combine a passion for films, my communications background and a career in International Organisations. Ideally, I´d like to work with funding for cultural projects at European level but hey, today I'm just a jobseeker! As you know, I have a second job at CinemaAttic where I'm in charge of communications and production duties to bring films from Spain and Latin American countries every month to both cities Edinburgh and Glasgow.

What is the origin of CinemaAttic?
We should call my big Segovian brother Carlos Redondo at this point. CinemaAttic was born as a personal project after his Masters experience here. He started to organise film nights in a quirky attic in Victoria Street. When he realised that there was a demand for more cutting edge productions from Spanish speaking countries he started to team up with cultural organisations in town taking these “Short-Film Nights” out of the attic. Film festivals, big projects and years of fighting to show Scots the talent of our filmmakers until 2012, when I came across with the fact that there was a guy from Segovia (the city I was born) organising cultural events. I thought it should be a joke, I was looking for the closest thing to a Cervantes Institute in Edinburgh to engage and help promoting Spanish culture and it turns that there's a platform called CinemaAttic bringing films every month, and the organiser was from Segovia. The “castilian” connection made the rest and after several months he called me to participate.

How does this initiative work?
We are not the only ones in town bringing Spanish culture; there are other great Film festivals and people fighting to raise the awareness of our culture around here. I guess CinemaAttic has that underground thing that makes it so distinctive. We work with Spanish and Latin American directors and distribution agencies aiming to showcase their work in top Scottish venues, we are lucky to count on the Summerhall here in Edinburgh and the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. Most of the people know about CinemaAttic for our short film nights at the Summerhall. We have this ethos of taking cinema out of actual cinemas and enhance the film experience.  There's something casual that we have unintentionally created around our film nights that people tend to find very appealing, must be the chit-chat networking breaks or the short film format itself. You come after a tough week and we have prepared a selection of short films, all tied around a common topic or idea that we want to stress that particular night, for instance these previous months we had programs such as “Drag the past out” or “Oh Relationships” we have also a program focused on the relationship with our relatives called “We are Family” and many others focused in Animation, Sci-fi, homages to ECAM (Madrid School of Cinematography) or KIMUAK, paying tribute to the best short films coming from Basque Country.

What projects does CinemaAttic have in mind for the future?
We have established the platform as a key organisation in Scotland. That was only possible thanks to the work of all the professionals that have been working at CinemaAttic for the last five years. Now we seek to take CinemaAttic to new places in the UK. Rafa and Sara work hard on opening new business formats and parter with key festivals and organisations worldwide.

CinemaAttic is trying to reach new audiences in Scotland and we recently started with our amigos at Yakety Yak Language Cafe the project of bringing our short film nights to senior audiences. Next week we are organising a CinemaAttic Matinee for the first time, our short films as usual but this time accompanied by a glass of wine and tapas, courtesy by Stockbridge deli Goya 23. Then at 8 o'clock we are back at home, hosting our monthly night at Summerhall. A truly intense cinemaattic day. It's too late to stop now!

We' ve also been working for long time on bringing more material from Cuba and seems like finally we may be able to bring a piece of La Habana to the Auld Reekie soon. We are closing partnerships with Cortogenia or ESCAC to keep feeding our CinemaAttic nights with nothing but the best productions coming from Spain and Latin American countries. You should expect special CinemaAttic projects coming soon!

What is your opinion about the current cinema industry in both, Spain and Scotland?
It seems like the industry is going towards specialisation. On one side you see all these series of blockbuster productions; we have already the whole calendar of releases until 2020 between Marvel, DC, Star Wars etc. With the increasing trend of the film festival, art studio and so-called European cinema is finding new ways to enter in cinemas worldwide, great news for those ones preferring these productions. I am the first one narrowing too much my film list to Spanish and Latin American short films because of my job at CinemaAttic, but probably the most exciting productions to me now are coming from African countries.

What is your favourite place in town?
The top of Arthur seat, facing West, at the very edge against the wind in a windy day if possible and early in the morning when is not riddled by visitors. It feels good up there.

What is the best place to get lost in the city?
The New Town. Get lost and come across Dean Path and Dean Terrace and then get to Inverleith Park for one of those radioactive Edinburgh sunsets. Another alternative is to get lost at the very bottom of Leith on a Saturday night, different experience though.

What do you like the most about this city?
The charm that make people get hooked with the city. It is hard to describe. The Old Town with all those grey buildings and kirks everywhere. Scots are another major reason. They are such down to earth people. I've known so many people that came here to visit someone and ended up moving to Edinburgh. There must be something.

What would you change?
It seems like Edinburgh is heading towards a city for investment banks and students. I have this internal dilemma when I hear the word pro-business policies...Most of the urban projects going on with the new St. James mall, New Waverley neighbourhood, Fountainbridge area. It seems like Edinburgh is strictly trying to build dorms and luxury flats everywhere, and obviously offer products, -In my case concerning cultural products- targeted to that people. I hope the balance between heritage and modern times respects the essence of Edinburgh in years to come. So yes, I'd change some horrible buildings nearby the Meadows, Fountainbridge Park etc

How would you describe Edinburgh in just one word?

CAPTIVATING

To get more information about all the events organised by CinemaAttic, click here

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