Taking over HOME for most of April is ¡Viva!, a major arts festival celebrating the culture of Spain and Latin America. It is returning bigger than ever, with screenings of 20 films from 10 countries, including four UK premieres. The visual arts will also be celebrated with the launch of an experimental moving image platform. And for the first time, the festival will include a theatre programme, featuring existing works and new commissions. Three the standouts of the festival are outlined below:

Theatre showcase: Abel González Melo
¡Viva! will feature a very special residency and showcase by the renowned Cuban playwright Abel González Melo. He is famed for his plays about his home country’s society and its harsh realities. His breakthrough work ‘Chamaco’ will have its UK premiere here. This will be a ‘scratch’ performance, meaning it will have a work-in-progress and collaborative feel. Also presented will be a reading of Melo’s newly-commissioned work ‘Weathered’. Don’t worry: both pieces will be presented in English.

Film screening: El Abrazo de la serpiente (‘Embrace of the Serpent’)
This adventure drama was filmed deep in the rainforests of Colombia. Taking place in 1909 and 1940, the film tells two stories, both featuring an Amazonian shaman who is the last member of his tribe. Accompanied by scientists, he travels through the jungle to look for a rare, sacred plant. The film was universally praised by critics for its black and white cinematography, and its portrayals of colonialism and survivor’s guilt. It won an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars.

Film screening: Mi Gran Noche (‘My Big Night’)
Something of a change of pace from the above, ‘My Big Night’, which hails from Spain, is a comedic satire of the entertainment industry. It centres on a New Year’s Eve TV special which is being pre-taped months in advance. During the disastrous shoot, an extra is accidentally killed and José, a hapless everyman, is hired as the replacement. Along with hundreds of other extras, he is essentially trapped in a TV studio for days, surrounded by egomaniacs. He becomes involved in various backstage shenanigans, including backstabbing, fights and even an assassination attempt.
Thu 7 Apr – Sun 24 Apr, HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, First Street, Manchester M15 4FN, Tel: 0161 200 1500, Price and show times vary, homemcr.org


Thu 7 Apr - Sun 24 Apr
A. James Simpkin
Published on:
Thu 21 Apr 2016