I know this will sound like a first-world problem, dear reader, but on occasion being asked to review one of these film festival seasons can be a bit of a chore. You look at the big pile of films the publicist hands you and you look outside at the shining sun, sighing, or your kid's sports schedule gives you very little time to squeeze them all in.
A perfect storm happened this Easter weekend, however, what with being struck with that lurgy going around and the weather on the turn, I sat down and watched every film from the 2015 Spanish Film Festival, start to finish.
Best collection of films I have seen in some time, and one of the most pleasant weekends I've ever spent dying of the flu on the couch.
I'm not sure exactly what's going on in Spain at the moment. Perhaps the economic crisis in the eurozone has meant middling films just aren't getting funded as what investors there currently are aren't willing to take a risk on anything other than a sure bet.
The Spanish Film Festival opens on April 23 with Spain's biggest home-grown box office champ in some years Spanish Affair (Thursday, April 23, 7pm, Saturday, May 2, 11.45am). Folks who liked the French film Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis will enjoy the culture-clashing gags when a man from the south and a Basque girl fall in love.
For me, hands-down best film is the Spanish-Indian co-production Traces of Sandalwood (Saturday, April 25, 6.45pm, Sunday, May 3, 4.30pm), a deeply moving film about an Indian Bollywood star (Nandita Das) who tracks down the younger sister adopted to a Spanish family (Aina Clotet).
Marshland (Saturday, April 25, 8.45pm, Friday, May 1, 6.30pm) has Hollywood remake all over it. Meanwhile, the award for best title is Easy Sex, Sad Movies (Sunday, April 26, 6.30pm, Saturday, May 2, 4.45pm).
Folk who've been to a few Spanish Film Festivals will enjoy the return of Carmina Barrios in Carmina and Amen (Sunday, April 26, 4.15pm, Sunday, May 3, 4.30pm), a very black comedy of sorts directed by her son, Paco Leon.
One of the highlights of the program has a surprisingly local connection. Festivals are a wonderful opportunity for the respective embassy to showcase their country's culture, but in this instance we actually have a film directed by the embassy of Spain's current deputy head of mission.
Cesar Espada wrote and directed the film Spot (Wednesday, April 29, 6.30pm), a film about manipulation within relationships, with his work schedule in mind. The film opens in New York, spends much of its time in Spain and finishes in Hanoi, all locations on Espada's diplomatic agenda.
"Yes, I wrote script that way because knew I'd be in all those places," Espada says.
"Filmmaking is very expensive, and my film is very low budget but it doesn't look it with these locations," he says.
In Spot, a young American actor (Daniel Levitt) is cruelly manipulated by his girlfriend (Natalia Miranda) into staging a public act of self-destruction.
"I was interested in writing a film about cruelty and manipulation, about why people do evil things for no obvious reason," Espada says.
A recent arrival at the Spanish embassy, Espada has previously worked for the Spanish diplomatic service in South Korea and Abu Dhabi, and he says filmmaking became his artistic outlet while away from home.
"I was an artist before I became a diplomat," Espada says, "but it's hard to move your canvasses and materials around the world so I became a digital artist which merged my different interests." (Espada also had a PhD in philosophy)
His first visit to Australia came at the invitation of the Sydney Underground Short Film Festival when they played one of his earlier short films.
Joining Cesar Espada for the screening of Spot is its star, Festival guest Eulalia Ramon, wife of the famous Spanish director Carlos Saura. The pair plan to shoot a short film together while Ramon is in Australia.
The Spanish Film Festival 2015 runs from April 23 to May 6 at Palace Electric Cinemas.