Under Francisco Franco’s regime, Spanish cinema was a tool for moral and political repression. But in 1955, Juan Antonio Bardem (Javier Bardem’s uncle) became one of Spain’s most influential auteurs and agitators with the release of his celebrated flip-off to Franconian family values, Death of a Cyclist (Muerte de un Ciclista). The film begins as an adulterous couple’s clandestine countryside drive is cut short when they hit a cyclist. Maria Jose (Lucia Bosé) and Juan (Alberto Closas) rush from their Fiat to their victim—he’s maimed, but not dead. Panicked, Maria and Juan flee the scene, opting to protect their love affair rather than risk exposure by helping the man. The screening is part of AFI’s Leading Ladies of Italian Cinema series. Femme fatale Bosé is at the center of the film, juggling duties to a husband, lover, and blackmailer in a performance that deconstructs Franco-era façades of strict upper-class morality and sterile nationalism.
THE FILM SHOWS SUNDAY AND TUESDAY AT THE AFI SILVER THEATRE AND CULTURAL CENTER, 8633 COLESVILLE ROAD, SILVER SPRING. $6–$10. (301) 495-6720.