Turnofthecentury Comingofage Films

The three films chosen for discussion here focus on male teenagers struggling with their gender and sexual identities, and all share aspects of context, narrative, and production which contribute to form a representative and cohesive unit of analysis. All three films have been commercially successful in Spain and have been well received by the critics and by the Spanish Academy.5 Furthermore, these three films were produced at the turn of the century (1998-2000) and, importantly, by young directors in their early thirties.6 Finally, unlike many of the films mentioned above, the films that I am about to analyze have a markedly urban (two of them are set in Madrid, and the third near Barcelona) and markedly contemporary setting.

Barrio (Neighborhood, 1998) tells the story of three teenagers from a depressed area of Madrid who suffer the consequences of their families' poor, tragic, and, in one case, repressive and violent background. El Bola (Pellet, 2000), also set in Madrid, focuses more closely on the tragically ubiquitous issue of domestic violence in Spain, here affecting a 12-year-old boy who becomes a victim of the extreme physical and psychological violence exerted by his repressive father (a reminder of the ''old'' Spain of the dictatorship) but who finds refuge in the warmth of a new school friend and his liberal, young parents (representative of the ''new democratic Spain''). Finally, the two young protagonists of Krampack (Dani and Nico, 2000) come from a much better off (Catalan) background. The lush surroundings of Dani's family's beach house and a few ephemeral moments of sexual pleasure with his friend Nico (they engage in mutual masturbation—which they call ''krampack'') help to make their sexual identity struggle much more bearable. Yet, while Dani is in love with Nico, Nico is in love with a girl who is also on holiday in this coastal town. Eventually, and partly due to Dani's friendship with an adult gay man, the summer proves a beneficial, life-

changing experience for both boys, and their different sexual tendencies do not seem to get in the way of their friendship.

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