Advertising for the award-winning Spanish film, SEX AND LUCIA, was banned today by Seattle’s 2 daily newspapers, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The news is particularly shocking because the film was awarded with four honors at this year’s Seattle Film Festival, of which the Seattle Times is an official Media Partner. Director Julio Medem was lauded as an Emerging Master at the Festival and received the Golden Space Needle Award as Best Director. The public audience also honored the film with awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay.
In the film industry, the banning of advertising is the equivalent of banning of the film itself. Chris Blackwell, Palm Pictures founder and long a champion of artists rights and the promotion of world culture said, “I am surprised and dismayed that a major news organization would prohibit tasteful advertising for a film which has found great acclaim around the world and particularly in Seattle. Renowned critics everywhere have applauded the film and audiences have made it successful in every country and city where it has been released. It is a shame that these 2 newspapers are trying to block ads that will bring this wonderful film to the attention of the diverse readership in Seattle.”
The Seattle Times, owned by the Blethen family, and The Seattle Post Intelligencer operate under a joint operating agreement with the Hearst Corporation. Although their editorial departments are independently run, it has not been determined if the critics who have seen the film will be allowed to publish their reviews of the film. Capsule reviews of the film ran during the Seattle Film Festival. The Seattle Times in fact called the film. “...lovely, lusty...a gorgeously shot twisty circle of a film.” When Julio Medem was in Seattle to be honored as an Emerging Master, he was interviewed by several Seattle journalists; it has also not been determined if either paper will publish any of these interviews or features on the film.
While both newspapers have banned advertising of some films in the past, such as BAISE-MOI, FAT GIRL, and L.I.E., they have allowed it for others, including the sexually explicit and similarly un-rated Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. The decisions to ban ads for SEX AND LUCIA seem arbitrary.
Neither paper would comment on the decision process used regarding the banning of the ads, other than to say it was due to the content of the film.
The head of the Seattle Film Festival, Darryl McDonald, was also shocked and disappointed by the decision of the 2 papers not to run advertising for the film. “The Festival has a tradition of promoting cinema from around the world, and inviting international filmmakers to attend the Festival, where they have always been welcomed enthusiastically not only by cineastes, but the public audiences of Seattle. It would be a slap in the face to the international artistic community to stifle their ability to promote their projects when they come to Seattle to find a wider audience.”
The film was feted by the Spanish Consulate and Esquire Magazine (like the Seattle Times, a Hearst Corporation outlet) in Seattle, as well as by audiences and media at the Festival. Positive reviews from media outlets around the world have hailed Julio Medem as the next important director to emerge from Spain. SEX AND LUCIA is scheduled to open in Seattle on August 16 at the Landmark Harvard Exit theatre. Palm Pictures is continuing discussions with the 2 newspapers, but both papers are standing by their decisions.
SEX AND LUCIA has been a huge success in its native Spain, has been sold into every other market around the world, and has already played the U.K. France, Israel, Turkey, Portugal and Denmark. In the US, the film opened 3 weeks ago in New York and Los Angeles and is just beginning to roll out across the country; already, it has grossed close to half a million dollars and will surpass the total box office of Medem’s last film, LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, this week. It has been feted at film festivals around the world, including Sundance, Rotterdam,