Since its birth in the mid-fifties as a showcase for religious cinema and human values, the Valladolid International Film Festival (Seminci) has consolidated itself as one of the most prestigious festivals in Europe, a showcase where consolidated authors and new promises from different latitudes meet to outline a plural and versatile panorama of contemporary cinema.
This commitment to a daring and courageous program that makes room for disparate languages and forms, that shelters truly independent proposals, is the hallmark of a festival that has been committed to authorship since its origins, as evidenced by the fact that the first Golden Spike, the highest award of the event, went to Truffaut’s Los cuatrocientos golpes. The screening of this film in a Spain subjected to censorship was not the exception, but the rule that consecrated the Seminci as a window to the world, as the place of reference where works whose commercial release was limited, if not already prohibited, could be seen.
It was in Valladolid where it was possible to see, in their full version, works by Bergman, Wilder, Kurosawa, Bresson, Welles, Wajda, Oliveira, Fellini, Pollack, Frankenheimer, Kluge, Brooks, Preminger, Kobayashi and Fuller, to name just a few of the names that, year after year, filled the halls of a faithful public eager for a cinema that broke away from the norm, plagued by themes and forms that broke with the stagnant production that reached the screens where the hand of censorship still hovered, which could not prevent, for example, that A Clockwork Orange was released during the twentieth edition, just a month before the death of Franco.
With the dictatorship gone, the Seminci evolved with the times, never losing sight of its course and with the desire to anticipate the waves of tomorrow and take the pulse of the cinema of the margins that found a place in programs that were always planned with a coherence that elevated the festival to a reference point for the entire continent. Valladolid was the gateway to the Spanish market for authors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Atom Egoyan, Andrei Tarkovsky, Nanni Moretti, Terence Davies, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Michael Haneke, John Lasseter, Mike Leigh, Lars von Trier, Jane Campion, Ken Loach, Zhang Yimou, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Tran Anh Hung, Samira Makhmalbaf, Edward Yang, Alexandr Sokurov, Jafar Panahi and Darren Aronofsky, many of whom came to the festival to present their works.
The Seminci stage has also been graced by the likes of Arthur Penn, Stanley Donen, Michael Cimino, Brad Pitt, Woody Allen, Stephen Frears, Pedro Almodóvar, Michael Winterbottom, Jim Jarmusch, Mickey Rourke, Julie Christie, Claude Chabrol, Kenneth Branagh, Jonathan Demme, Mira Sorvino, Bong Joon-ho, Juliette Binoche, Vittorio Storaro and Malcolm McDowell, who have received the applause of the thousands of spectators who make up such a demanding and loyal audience.
In its last editions, Valladolid has bet on new creators such as Jacques Audiard, Alexander Payne, Denis Villeneuve, Andreas Dressen, Wolfgang Becker, Christian Petzold, Kelly Reichardt, Damien Chazelle, Wang Quan’an and Chloé Zhao, to name just a few of those who have integrated programs accompanied by cycles and retrospectives that make up another of the pillars on which the event is based and that aim to illuminate the production of different parts of the map, always structured from a rigor and coherence inscribed in the DNA of the festival.