Movie magic descends on Malaga this weekend as the city hosts the 2020 Goya awards. These are the Spanish equivalent of the American Oscars or UK Baftas.
Local authorities and businesses have sponsored the move to the city for this year. The prestigious prizes for Spanish-language film will be handed out on Saturday night, (25 January). This is the 35th year of the gala ceremony, which is a major televised event for Spanish households - all eyes will be on Malaga.
The venue is the transformed Martín Carpena stadium on the edge of the city, close to the airport. The copper-domed building is normally home to the city's successful basketball team, Unicaja. For the past ten days a team of 350 has been working in three shifts around the clock to get it ready. Outside, a striking new entrance with a design based on pyramids has been set up eight metres high, providing a backdrop for the red-carpet arrivals and two large screens that will relay the gala to the crowds outside.
A 580-square-metre stage
Inside, the space is larger than normal Goya venues, (last year the ceremony was held in Seville but has traditionally taken place in Madrid). The stage area will cover 580 square metres with gantries supporting 15 tonnes. A temporary VIP stand has also been added and space made for about 3,200 guests in total.
As all years, there is almost as much excitement around what the awards' presenters will say and do as there is about possible award winners. This year, popular comedians and entertainers, Andreu Buenafuente and Silvia Abril will repeat the hosts' role for the second year. Speaking at a press conference this week, the married couple made jokes about the size of the venue.
"Malaga is a cinema-friendly city but we've moved to a place that isn't very cinema-friendly, a sports pavilion with immense possibilities, so we've wanted the show to grow and be powerful," explained Abril. "Every morning I'm on the exercise machine for the kilometres we are going to cover for the gala."
Tickets have not been on general sale, instead going to Spanish Film Academy members, nominees, local dignitaries and sponsors. However, one ticket did appear valued at 1,600 euros in a promotion organised by a sponsor, the sale of which has been frowned on.
Awards will be presented in 28 categories and stars from the Spanish screen will be presenting the awards, including Penélope Cruz, Maribel Verdú, Fernando Tejero, José Coronado and Belén Rueda. Celebrities from other walks of life will also take part and, as part of the entertainment, Antonio Banderas will perform a routine from A Chorus Line, his production at Malaga's new Teatro Caixabank Soho.
Favourites to win
Among the favourites to win awards is Mientras Dure la Guerra, (While at War), directed and co-written by Alejandro Amenábar, with 17 nominations across all categories. The film is set during the Spanish Civil War and follows the last days of literary giant, Miguel de Unamuno
Dolor y Gloria, (Pain and Glory), Pedro Almodóvar's autobiographical work starring Banderas is up for 16 possible Goyas.
The biggest secret of the night is whether an iconic former child star from Malaga will personally collect her "Goya de Honor" lifetime-achievement award. Seventy-one-year-old Pepa Flores, known to generations as Marisol, has not been seen in public for many years. "It is a decision for her," said Academy president, Mariano Barroso, this week.