On Wednesday 13 May 2009 I went to the opening night film and fiesta for the Spanish film festival at the Como cinema. I don’t know or care why there are two Spanish film festivals (the national one that has been running for many years and La Mirada, which has run in Melbourne only for the past three years). It’s probably a turf war between film distributors. It means foreign film lovers in Melbourne get to see more films, which is all I care about.

sff3 come back La Mirada, all is forgiven!

The film itself was funny and sweet. Chef’s Special is about a meticulous gay chef who is obsessed with earning a Michelin star for his restaurant, and who has to deal with the endless distractions of crazy staff, the death of his ex wife, the sudden responsibility of parenting his estranged children and falling in love with a Argentinian football star. It’s light and fast paced and very enjoyable.

I was critical of La Mirada’s opening night at ACMI a month ago, and was skeptical about going to another expensive opening night (this was $40; La Mirada was $45). My friend was more optimistic, and pointed out that we did have a good time at the La Mirada opening night once we got enough food. Sadly my cynicism was correct. The opening night of the Spanish film festival at the Como was much worse than the La Mirada one. Come back La Mirada, all is forgiven!

sff2 come back La Mirada, all is forgiven!

My showbag did not contain a CD as promised. All I got was a tin of olives. After the film we were ushered downstairs to the ground floor of the Como shopping centre. In the middle a roped off area contained several tables of drinks and a band. The only thing about this night that was better than the La Mirada night was that the glasses of wine were pre-poured. Sensible. The red was mild and tasteless.

The space was far too small for the number of people and we were squashed together for no reason, as a lot of the available floor space was not being used. The band sounded like they had been borrowed from the casino pension bingo day. The ambiance was like that at a bank queue. The fight to get to the inadequate amount of food was tough, and the quality was terrible. The wait staff were coming down the escalators with trays of food, and like at La Mirada, you had to corner them before they could get far in order to get a decent amount of food.

sff1 come back La Mirada, all is forgiven!

The food itself resembled that provided at a suburban conference centre hosting an event for regional sales managers. Dry chicken sandwiches? Very Spanish, not. Slices of what appeared to be gourmet sausage rolls? Very Spanish, not. Mini toast squares with tinned salmon on top? Not particularly Spanish. Flavourless tortilla that needed a lot more salt in it? Slightly Spanish. The only tasty things were crumbed balls with a spicy rice filling. The first batch that came out were delicious. The second batch had evidently been fried poorly and were soaked in oil. There was no seafood.

We felt disgusted by the horrible food and environment. In comparison, we got good value for money at the La Mirada night because the food was plentiful and of a high standard. This night at the Como was rubbish. We entertained ourselves by pointing out anorexic South Yarra ladies with waxy faces and once that no longer amused us we left. Never again.

come back La Mirada, all is forgiven!

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