The Innocence Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

I’m probably not best placed to tell you how authentic or otherwise this account of a summer in the lives of 15 year old girls in a village near Valencia actually is, but I have to say it surely convinced me it was the real thing.

Lucia Alemany shot this film in her home town, using locals as extras, and it comes as no surprise that she shares with her central character Lis (a perfectly cast Carmen Arrufat) a love of the circus. Alemany a graduate of a Barcelona circus school, Lis desperate to be allowed to go there to train as a performer.

Arrufat epitomises the idea of a mid-teen girl – adorable, strong willed, wayward and both a delight and a trial to her parents. You can’t help but love her.

There may not be any startling new insights here, this is a familiar tale of inter-generational conflict, but it’s the way the story is handled that makes this film so wonderful. There are no great revelations, but a gentle release of the undercurrents of ordinary lives. An exuberant and talented teenager, trapped and stifled by her surroundings and longing to pursue a chosen career that is always just outside her grasp, embroiled in a love affair with an unsuitable local lad, squabbling with schoolmates, enjoying time spent with her best friend. Hands up if any of this resonates with you.

As to what transpires at the end of our heroine’s summer vacation, and what path her life might take…well, I’m not about to give any of that away. You can find out for yourselves by seeing the movie.

Recommended for viewing by teenage girls; the parents of teenage girls; and anyone who finds joy in humanity. Films like this make my work a pleasure.

Jim Welsh

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