2020, which will go down in history as the year of the pandemic, was also ALCINE’s fiftieth year. It was a historic moment; a half century is a milestone that very few festivals in Spain have reached. That is why we decided to trick the calendar and postpone the celebration until this year, which we were all sure would be better; quite possibly in a more normal situation. Although everything has been slower and more painful than we would have liked, the current situation has allowed us to stop putting off a unique celebration.
We are aware that commemorations, like awards, tributes and other conventions often associated with cultural and social events, are more important in terms of media coverage than as actual events. However, it is also true that they are moments that serve as very useful pauses on the journey, allowing us to take stock with perspective and a festive spirit of the road travelled. In our case a small local event has turned into a film festival with a European outlook, with multiple activities and a wide-ranging scope. So, with this commemorative year as a starting point, having taken stock, we can take new strides forwards with renewed impetus.
Looking back over fifty years, we remember the origins of ALCINE with admiration and respect. They were times of voluntary action and insecurity in a sluggish and culturally gloomy country. And despite humility being a leitmotif of the festival throughout its history, it has not been at odds with ambition, and it is undeniable that the dimensions, quantity of works premiered and screened, and the number of activities, whether they be shows or exhibitions, or educational, musical or purely cinematographic events, have just continued to grow and broadened the festival’s radius of action.
Albeit exceptionally, our aim has been to revisit the journey taken since the end of the sixties, championing our passion for film and the desire for it to reach Álcala de Henares and our audience. This has been the engine driving each team behind the festival scenes at each moment in time, always in pursuit of placing the focus on lesser-known aspects of cinema. That is the reason why short films have been the central theme serving to knit together various eras of the festival. The origin, young filmmakers, first steps, and the starting point, symbolically represented in the festival’s logo -the signpost pointing to the beginning of numerous journeys-, have always been the cornerstones of ALCINE.
Not losing perspective, not betraying the goal of seeking out new film scenes, has endowed ALCINE with consistency and authenticity, regardless of the fact that cinema has continued to reinvent itself, as ALCINE has too alongside it. As cinema was transformed, in the seventies under the influence of television, in the eighties with the boom in domestic film (from video cameras to the first formats for watching films at home), in the nineties with the rebirth of short film and the emergence of new generations of filmmakers, at the dawn of the new millennium with digitalisation criss-crossing cinema, up until the rise of platforms in the last decade, ALCINE has witnessed it all and transformed itself at the same time and at the same speed as cinema itself; at 24 frames per second.
Other challenges await us in the changing and accelerating panorama which we have been experiencing in recent years. This fiftieth anniversary, a brief pause in the frenetic evolution of moving images, will constitute the beginning of a new era, a new page in a new age. In a highly digitalised society, and in view of the most recent period, based to a certain extent on the individual consumption of cinema, festivals are facing new challenges to remain relevant in this context and to continue to be a point of reference for the discovery of new film scenes, while not cutting ties with audiences, the cities in which they are held, and the industry.