Rory Jones

Writer. Teesside-Glasgow

Sunshine slavery warning issued over ‘tout’ jobs on Spanish islands

  Written for The Local Spain:

As the summer season gets underway on Spain’s Islands, the UK Foreign Office issued a warning to young Brits considering spending the summer working as PRs or “touts” in clubs and bars.

The department had conducted an undercover investigation in Mallorca which found that workers are often paid low wages, charged extortionate rents and even have their passports seized by employers. Others were in danger of sexual harassment and assault.

The investigation also found that 20 of the 25 Brits currently in prison in Mallorca had formerly worked as PRs. Some touts, it was discovered, resorted to selling drugs as a result of their mounting debts, lack of proper contracts and expensive accommodation. The Foreign Office referred to the working conditions some seasonal workers are subjected to as “modern day slavery”.

In response to the investigation, Border Force and slavery charity Unseen launched a campaign to warn young Brits of the potential risks of working abroad. Unseen employees went to airports to ensure people travelling out to work were aware of their confidential helpline and the support available should they be recruited by exploitative employers.

To find out how best to approach working summer seasons in Spain, The Local spoke to both former PRs and the British Embassy for more of an insight.

Blogger Kate Brown worked summer seasons in Magaluf during her university breaks. For their first stint on the island, Brown and her friends booked one way flights to Mallorca and quickly found jobs by speaking to the PRs outside bars. “From what I can remember I had a ‘trial’ shift PRing for a bar in BCM square set up for the next night.”

Brown’s first job involved working 9pm-2am six nights a week, but she enjoyed the relaxed and social nature of the work, which she found to be fairly structured. “You did work hard when you worked – it was pretty non stop – but you never really had to stay past those hours.” At the time, PR work was banned by the local authority, but employers and staff found ways around the law. “When the police went past, we would hide or pretend we were doing other work. I think they might have known people were PRing but couldn’t really do much if they didn’t catch you red handed.”

Despite the technical illegality of the work, Brown wasn’t ill-treated and was surprised by the Foreign Office findings. “It was fun work, the hours were OK – sometimes they dragged a bit but all in all it was more like you were just having fun with friends and getting paid to drink.” As for drug dealing, Brown says it happened on quite a low scale and she rarely even witnessed people taking drugs during her time as a PR.

READ MORE: Magaluf bans drunk badly-behaved tourists

Brown’s overall experience of working in Magaluf was positive, but she does warn of the common traps young workers fall into during their first seasons. “I’ve heard of some bars making people do trial shifts for free for a week and then telling them they don’t have the job, so basically making them work for free with no intention of keeping them on…”

Accommodation can also be a concern – Brown encountered issues with flatmates suddenly moving out and leaving her with no one to split the rent with. “Be wary of signing a proper contract and don’t just trust people you might think you know but you’ve only just met.”

But not everyone working in Spanish resorts is as lucky as Brown was. In YouTuber Natasha Carlyle’s video ‘So you want to work in Ibiza? My advice on working a season abroad’ Carlyle speaks about the dangers of working as a PR on the island, which she has done three times. She urges young Brits to avoid the kind of recruitment companies she went through for her first season, which offer to find workers accommodation and jobs for a fee.

The work the company set up for Carlyle involved selling tickets around hotels and beaches, which can be legally dubious and “can get you into a lot of trouble.” Carlyle was also left without accommodation after a month, despite the company’s claims that leases could be extended during the season. In addition, Carlyle was under the impression that she would be able to receive support from the company for the duration of her time on the island, but this also turned out to be false.

Apart from avoiding exploitative companies which exaggerate what they’re able to provide, Carlyle recommends that would-be workers organise proper documentation before they arrive, budget well and check official workers’ pages on social media for accommodation before signing up to potential scams.

British Consul General Lloyd Milen, meanwhile, says that he hopes the Border Force operation will “ensure young holiday makers are aware of the risks and know what to do if they have problems” and that as a result “we will see fewer PR workers become consular cases this summer.”

The government’s official press release advises that before accepting a PR role, workers should insist on a contract setting out terms and conditions, keep hold of their passport and ask to see accommodation before accepting it as part of a job package.

British nationals having difficulties can contact the Consulate on 0034 933 666 200 or They can also contact Unseen on 08000 121 700.


Crooks, Clubbers and Commies: British cinema’s love affair with Spain

Written for The Local:

Spain is both home to the largest number of British migrants in Europe, at an estimated 700,000, and last year welcomed a record 17.8 million British tourists, making it by some margin Brits’ favourite holiday destination.

Those in search of the good life have for decades flocked predominantly to the costas but also to Madrid, Barcelona and the Balearics. It should come as no surprise, then, that their lives and exploits have inspired scores of filmmakers – the history of Britain’s long love affair with Spain is nowhere better reflected than in cinema.

From sunburned gangsters to young revolutionaries, Balearic ravers to misty-eyed actors, here are The Local’s favourite portraits of Brits in Spain to have hit the silver screen.

The Business (2005)

Understandably, the Costa del Sol has dominated Spain’s representation in British cinema. The lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries made the Andalusian ‘Sun Coast’ a favourite hideaway for British criminals in the 1970s, a phenomenon that saw British cinema send its much-loved cockney gangsters on holiday. Nick Love’s sometimes cheesy, always entertaining crime flick The Business stars a young Danny Dyer as Frankie, a South Londoner who flees an assault charge to work for a mobster on the Costa del Sol, and ends up smuggling cannabis and cocaine.

Love affectionately evokes the atmosphere of 80s Marbella, with a soundtrack that favours David Bowie and Roxy Music and wardrobe choices that squeeze bloated Brit gangsters into tiny Fila shorts, ensuring Dyer’s Scarface-like rise and fall has a very ‘Brit abroad’ feel.

Sexy Beast (2000)

Though it was released five years earlier, Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast could quite easily have been a sequel to The Business. Ray Winstone’s Gal is exactly where we expect Dyer’s Frankie to be in the present day: roasting on a sun lounger in the Andalusian heat, a former villain turned model expat retiree, seeking nothing more than the quiet life and employing a local kid to clean up and bring him beers. Gal’s Spanish dream is humorously summed up in his opening monologue eulogising the sun, while banal conversations with his wife about the pool tiles register the lazy nonchalance of retired life abroad. This utopian state of affairs is however soon interrupted when Ben Kingsley’s unhinged Don Logan rocks up at the villa demanding Gal take on one last job, and the pressure is slowly cranked up as Gal’s paradise starts to crumble.

Morvern Callar (2002)

No film captures Spain in the British imagination quite like Lynne Ramsay’s mesmerising second feature, Morvern Callar. The eponymous heroine, played by Samantha Morton, wakes up one day to find that her boyfriend has committed suicide and left her funeral money and instructions to send his novel off to publishers. But rather than fulfil his wishes, Morvern submits the novel under her own name and uses the money to leave the dreary, muted Scottish gloom for a sun-drenched Spanish resort with her best friend. The sense of escapism shared by the hordes of Brits that throng these resorts every summer is palpable, as Morvern sticks her head out of the airport taxi window and cracks a smile for the first time in the film.

Kevin & Perry Go Large (2000)

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Harry Enfield’s cult favourite beloved of generations of young teenagers. In the big-screen debut of his trademark sketch character, Enfield sends Kevin the Teenager and Kathy Burke’s gormless Perry to Ibiza to try and make it as DJs, and in so doing sends up the sometimes po-faced dance music scene that has driven young Brits to the island for decades. It might be full of crude humour, but with its pumping trance soundtrack, egotistic Balearic DJs and scenes in iconic club Amnesia, Kevin & Perry Go Large goes some way to reflect the Ibiza of the late nineties.

Land and Freedom (1995)

What links all of the previous films is their lack of Spanish characters – while Spain plays a large role in their tone and visual style, they all but ignore the existence of natives to the country in which they’re set. Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom, meanwhile, breaks this mould by exploring British solidarity with the Spanish Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. The film follows David Carr, a Liverpudlian worker who leaves home for Spain to fight with the International Brigades. On the front line, Carr bears witness to the ideological conflicts that divided the Republicans and led to their defeat. Land and Freedom was critically lauded and sparked a longstanding collaboration (and marriage) between Scottish screenwriter Paul Laverty and Icíar Bollaín, the Spanish actress/director that plays Maite in the film.

The Trip to Spain (2017)

In Michael Winterbottom’s third instalment of the bickering, ego-fuelled antics of a fictionalised Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon sent on a newspaper assignment to review restaurants together, the duo head to Spain to recreate Coogan’s teenage road trip from Cantabria to Andalusia. Coogan’s hilariously pretentious fantasy of following in the footsteps of Laurie Lee in ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ is offset by Brydon’s whimsical humour, as the pair discover the different faces of Spain and its food culture, visiting Aragon, Rioja and Castile along the way.

The eight best music festivals in Spain this summer

Written for The Local: 

With summer upon us, festival season is in full swing. Primavera might have concluded on Sunday, but there’s still plenty to look forward to on Spain’s festival calendar, with everything from Basque forest raves to all-night beach concerts on offer from June through to August. Here are The Local’s highlights.

UVA, Ronda, June 8th-11th

Photo: sepavone/Depositphotos

A newcomer to the Spanish festival circuit, UVA’s big draw is its fairytale location, nestled on a hillside in a converted 15th century monastery in the beautiful town of Ronda. Boutique events like this offer a contrast to the gargantuan spaces and hectic mobs of festival giants like Sónar and Primavera – UVA’s capacity of 500 ensures a far more intimate and relaxed experience. It’s the perfect setting for a laid-back summer shindig soundtracked by underground darlings like Call Super and DJ Sports.

Sónar, Barcelona, June 14th-16th

LCD Soundsystem are playing this year. Sonar. Photo: Sonar

Undoubtedly one of the main events of Spain’s festival season, Barcelona’s Sónar celebrates its 25th anniversary this June with headliners Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem and Thom Yorke. Sónar has always booked interesting and diverse acts that reflect contemporary trends across the electronic music spectrum, and this year’s lineup is no exception: Friday night’s SónarLab will see house favourites Bicep and Bonobo share a stage with grime icons Wiley and Preditah, while over at ‘SónarPub by Thunder Bitch’ you can catch a live show from Swedish rapper Yung Lean before an early morning set from German techno star Helena Hauff.

READ ALSO: What’s on in Spain: June 2018

It’s also worth remembering that if you can’t afford the substantial admission, Sónar is an event that reaches beyond the festival site and takes over Barcelona for a few days, with various ‘Off-Sónar’ parties occurring at different venues around the city showcasing top DJs at affordable ticket prices.

Bilbao BBK Live, July 12th-14th

Situated in the picturesque Basque Country, Bilbao BBK Live offers a great balance of pop-oriented and underground acts. The main lineup, which includes Gorillaz, Florence and the Machine and Childish Gambino as headliners, is counterbalanced by the electronic-focused ‘Basoa’, a festival-within-a-festival that takes place in the forest and this year plays host to Glasgow heroes Optimo and Korean party-starter Hunee.

Mad Cool Festival, Madrid, July 12th-14th

Located just south of Madrid’s centre at Caja Mágica, recent arrival to the festival circuit Mad Cool is a worthy rival to Primavera in Barcelona, boasting an impressive roster for a young festival that includes rock heavyweights (Pearl Jam, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age), alternative acts du jour (Wolf Alice, Young Fathers, Slaves) and dance music luminaries (DJ Koze, The Black Madonna, Daniel Avery). As a bonus, the festival’s early evening start time offers the perfect excuse for attendees to get out and explore Madrid during the day.

Festival Internacional de Benicassim, Valencia, July 19th-22nd

At FIB, hordes of raucous young music fans from across Europe descend on the coastal town of Benicassim to see bands play through the night on the beach. If that perfect recipe for a summer festival isn’t enough make you pack your bags and head to the Costa del Azahar, then the stellar lineup should convince; this year sees The Killers, Pet Shop Boys and Liam Gallagher headline the main stage with Eric Prydz, Belle and Sebastian and Madness playing over the weekend.

Arenal Sound, Valencia, July 31st-August 5th

Just down the coast from Benicassim lies the town of Borriana, where another beachside festival is giving the well-established giant a run for its money. Its long duration in the height of summer generates a real party atmosphere, with a line up this year including Crystal Fighters, Azealia Banks and Steve Aoki.

DGTL Barcelona, August 10th-11th

Photo: DGTL

Closing out the summer festival season is this mid-august two day party, which exports the Dutch techno festival DGTL Amsterdam to the industrial Parc del Fòrum on the outskirts of Barcelona. Taking place at the hottest time of the year and favouring the uncompromising four-to-the-floor techno music of artists like Carl Craig, Maceo Plex and Amelie Lens, hydration will be essential.

DCODE, Madrid, September 8th

If you don’t want to commit to several days worth of partying, consider this compact one day festival in Madrid. Coming in just after the main festival season on September 8th, DCODE manages to pack plenty into its short timescale: this year, Albert Hammond Jr, Jorja Smith and The Vaccines will take to the Universidad Complutense de Madrid campus to mark the city’s last hurrah before the end of the summer.

Jacques Greene @ CCA Glasgow

Written for SynthGlasgow:

Over the last six years or so, Montreal’s Jacques Greene has become one of the most celebrated members of Glasgow’s wildly influential LuckyMe collective. Greene’s string of starkly emotive but club-ready EPs for the label originated and perfected an enduring trend of garage-tinged house that sampled chopped vocals from Ciara and Brandy tunes, some of which, like ‘Another Girl,’ became instant hits. While occasionally turning his hand to projects for other similarly-minded crews like London’s Night Slugs, Greene seems to have found a home at LuckyMe, and released a debut album, ‘Feel Infinite’, on the label earlier this month.


Photo: Dhillon Clarke

Described in press releases and interviews as “a record both about the club and for the club” that promulgates a “utopian vision of club culture”, it’s a high-minded but firmly accessible record that gathers the iconic elements of the Jacques Greene sound into a cohesive whole, matching all-out house bangers like lead single ‘You Can’t Deny’ with the likes of heart-rending opener ‘Fall’. While in many ways it’s an album to live with and feels as suited to the headphones as it would be to the club, it’s a tantalizing prospect to experience the project in a live environment, especially in the city he’s come to call a second home.

It’s with the lofty aspirations of ‘Feel Infinite’ in mind that we approach Greene’s show at the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall Street for the Glasgow leg of his European tour. Support comes from a pair of LuckyMe label-mates; local grime producer and rising star Inkke, and label bosses Dominic Flannigan and Martyn Flyn as The Blessings go b2b for an hour before Greene’s live performance commences at the opposite end of the room.

Starting with ‘Fall’, the bulk of the set rearranges the album, gradually building in energy with slow burners first and high octane singles last. But while the zestful, bassline-heavy ‘Real Time’ and ‘To Say’ succeed in getting the early evening crowd moving, it’s the tracks which place more emphasis on evocative vocals and melodies rich in atmosphere that prove most affecting. ‘Dundas Collapse’ and ‘You See All My Light’ sound gargantuan in the space, and the blissed-out, sparkling synths of the latter track spark a hair-standing-on-end moment that’s topped only by Greene closing out the set with ‘Another Girl’.

The night is short and sweet, serving as a showcase for a great album and body of work; but it’s clear that, much like his previous EPs, Greene’s latest creations will really come into their own when they’re played out in the coming months and years – it’s a nicely cyclical thought that ‘Feel Infinite’ is going to soundtrack the kind of nights that produced it.

Jacques Greene – ‘Feel Infinite’ is available now on digital and vinyl formats via LuckyMe.

Wavvy Music Website Launch

Written for SynthGlasgow:

In the last year or two, Scotland’s burgeoning grime scene seems to have got its act together and gone from strength to strength, its stars gaining recognition from their high-profile London peers and attracting coveted bookings for major shows like Eskimo Dance. Much of this success has been propelled by Scotland’s answer to Risky Roadz or SBTV: Wavvy Music.

Run entirely by Glasgow videographer Konz, the Wavvy Music YouTube channel is a showcase for largely Scottish grime and hip-hop talent, offering an immense volume of run-and-gun freestyles, music videos and set coverage. The likes of Shogun, SWVN and Ransom FA were given early exposure by Wavvy and all appear on it regularly. Having recently expanded the channel into a full-blown website, Konz hosted a party at the appropriately anarchic Flat 0/1 to celebrate. Because while the content put out by Wavvy et al is a crucial component of new generation grime, there’s nothing like seeing it in the flesh.


Focusing on individual lyrcists as opposed to the likes of Ransom Crew, MFTM, LVLZ and the other crews active in Scottish grime, the lineup for tonight boasts a range of MCs and DJs from various corners of the scene. The acidic flows of Chrissy Grimez are to meet SWVN’s more hip-hop tinged lyricism, topped-off by a set of homegrown anthems from Aberdeen’s Ransom FA, with selectors DJ Nojan, Rapture 4D, Faroh, Cleaverhype and Kyle Brown on the ones and twos.

A last minute cancellation from Wolverhampton spitter Zeo Zeonardo places the pressure firmly on the three Scottish MCs. As the venue starts to fill, SWVN warms things up with a slightly more gritty set than we’ve become accustomed to through his tracks, his bars accompanied by darker, more glacial beats. He’s soon followed by Chrissy Grimez, who brings up the tempo with his signature frenetic style, delivering a solid, dynamic set that rallies the crowd into action mode.

The highlight of the night occurs midway through Ransom FA’s set. After smashing out a selection of his best known tracks, there’s a pause before the sun-drenched melody of his Polonis-produced banger ‘Wake Up’, a collaboration with Shogun and arguably the most successful Scottish grime tune to date, slowly chimes in. It’s an undeniable floor-filler, and the crowd is already animated when Shogun emerges from behind the decks for his verse, addressing the room with jagged, accelerated bars, bringing a vigour and powerful sense of urgency to proceedings that reminds us why this Paisley teen is being heralded as the nation’s “great rap hope.”

Immediately following ‘Wake Up’, Shogun instigates a cypher, inviting “anyone that spits” to step up, prompting a gaggle of bodies in the cramped booth passing the mic and belting out their best bars. It’s a scene reminiscent of early pre-revival grime sessions in youth clubs, and a fitting conclusion to the night that demonstrates the real spirit of the genre; fervent, communal and competitive, with a touch of chaos.

T2: Trainspotting review

Written for the Glasgow Guardian:

In 1996, Danny Boyle was at the top of his game. A young and hungry Mancunian director with an eye for vibrant, dynamic visuals that drew inspiration from the likes of Kubrick, and an ear for iconic, on-the-pulse soundtracks, his sophomore film Trainspotting was his calling card, launching not just his career but those of everyone involved – not least the young Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle and Kelly Macdonald. The cultural impact of the film can’t be overstated; adapted from “post acid house” writer Irvine Welsh’s shattering debut novel, it’s far more than a film about junkies – it’s still an important reference point today for cinematic style and culture, capturing the zeitgeist in a way no major film before or since has really achieved.


So news of a sequel brought to mind a quote from Trainspotting: “You’ve got it, then you lose it”, opines Jonny Lee Miller’s Sick Boy before pontificating on the inevitable downward trajectory of Lou Reed, David Niven and Malcolm McLaren. Even the greatest artists, he believes, are doomed to mediocrity. It would be easy to take that musing and use it to cast doubt on the credibility of a follow-up – the idea that “we all get old and then we can’t hack it any more” was always going to loom large over the sequel to a cultural phenomenon made in the filmmakers’ prime.

It’s testament to the shrewdness of Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge that rather than running away from this inherent problem, they make it the focus of the new film. While the surface elements of Trainspotting are all there – drugs, disastrous sex, beatings, thieving, scheming, Hibs, Adidas and Underworld – T2: Trainspotting is an entirely different creation. It’s a film about ageing, decay, failure and disappointment, with both the characters that inhabit the film and those behind the camera all too aware of their former glory and virility.

When we catch up with the main cast, we find that, just as Sick Boy predicted, they’ve all in some sense “lost it”. Spud has never managed to stay off smack, Begbie’s been stewing in jail for twenty years, and Sick Boy has given up his lofty ambitions to make it as a pimp and pusher to run his auntie’s pub, with a sideline in filming and extorting prostitutes’ clients. Even Renton, the one member of the gang who’s supposed to have realised his dreams and escaped to a better life in Amsterdam, finds his world crumbling around him, his unexpected redundancy and failed marriage driving him back to Edinburgh. He soon reconnects with his old friends, but things start to fall apart when Begbie escapes from prison and catches wind of Renton’s return, and the film becomes a violent game of cat and mouse.

It’s to T2’s credit that it doesn’t try in vain to live up to its predecessor in terms of having a lasting impact on the wider culture. A soundtrack heavily featuring Edinburgh’s Young Fathers doesn’t pack the same punch, and the cast don’t have the same striking look this time around. The fact that the music and wardrobe choices are slightly out of touch with contemporary youth culture is fitting: this is 2017 seen through the eyes of four middle-aged men, and when in one scene they step into an Edinburgh club full of teenagers, they look exactly as they should: bewildered. Renton wears bootcut jeans and still listens to Iggy Pop, and Sick Boy obsesses over old videos of George Best playing for Hibs. As the latter’s younger girlfriend Veronika notifies them, the pair are trapped in the past. Times have changed and left them behind.

Where the film succeeds most is in its portrayal of the things that really haven’t changed since the first instalment; a scene in which Renton and Sick Boy infiltrate a Protestant sectarian pub to steal the patrons’ credit cards (all of whose pins are 1690) and end up having to improvise a chant about the Battle of the Boyne recaptures some of the energy of the original without harking back to it.

And for fans of Trainspotting, there is of course a magic in watching these characters simply interact again. In interviews the stars have readily admitted a special attachment to their roles in the franchise that made their names, and it shows – there’s a sense that some of the cast are giving the performance of their lives. Robert Carlyle, in particular, manages to balance that trademark menace with big laughs and unexpected pathos, his dual unchecked rage and pacifying regret perfectly encapsulating the ideas behind the sequel while reminding us what made the original so great.

Some of Lou Reed’s solo stuff’s not bad, and owing to an inventive concept and stellar performances, neither is this. Though it would be an impossible task to better Trainspotting, that isn’t the intention here – T2 is a worthy addition to the legacy that always looks back with reverence at the film that started it all.


Madrid Pride 2015

Short write up and gallery I did for The Local:

From July 1st to 5th, Madrid’s restaurants, shopfronts and balconies were awash with rainbow colours in a unanimous show of support for the biggest gay pride celebration in Europe. 

The city’s new left wing mayor Manuela Carmena offered an historic symbol of solidarity with the gay community by making the decision to fly the rainbow flag from City Hall for the first time, an act which made this year’s Pride stand out as a landmark event in Madrid’s history.

Carmena highlighted Spain’s pioneering legal amendment which legalised gay marriage in 2005, saying “I am very proud to be the mayor of a capital that took such an important step”.

Over a million people were present at the culminating parade on Saturday, which started at Atocha station and marched north down the Paseo del Prado all the way to the Plaza de Colón.

Relive the experience with these photos, which truly capture the spirit of Madrid Pride 2015.

Just a little over a week since the US legalized gay marriage nationwide, Spain was celebrating its 10 year anniversary of same-sex marriage

Just a little over a week since the US legalized gay marriage nationwide, Spain was celebrating its 10 year anniversary of same-sex marriage

Madrid International Film Festival 2015: the guide

Written for The Local:

The Madrid International Film Festival returns this week with a programme of independent films from Europe, America, Australia and beyond. The event is run by Film Festival International, who also direct sister festivals in St Tropez, Milan and Tenerife. Still in its infancy, the Madrid IFF was founded in 2012, this year marking its fourth edition.
lee scratch perry
The entire event will be held from July 2nd to July 11th at the arty Dormirdcine hotel, where all-day screenings, networking sessions and masterclasses will culminate in an awards night where the filmmakers will compete for prizes in the Best Film, Best Director and Best Lead Actor categories, among others. The candidates will also have the chance to try and sell their films, as seasoned film distributors are among the industry players who will be in attendance.

This year’s nominees, in a truly eclectic roster of films, include:

Ballet 422 – Best Film
ballet 422
Jody Lee Lipes’ fly-on-the-wall documentary follows young choreographer Justin Peck as he makes his debut creating an original show for the New York City Ballet – the company’s 422nd. In the vein of The September Issue and Dior and I, the film is an intimate account of the peaks and troughs of the creative process – over 72 minutes, the audience bears witness to one man’s vision carried painstakingly through to completion.

Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise – Best Documentary Feature
Filmed over thirteen years, German director Volker Schaner’s Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise is an intimate portrait of the Jamaican reggae artist as he discovers the meaning of life, love, music and everything in between.

A Tangled Web – Best Original Screenplay
JP Thomas’ noir-tinged whodunit, set in the sun-drenched suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas, is up for Best Original Screenplay at MIFF thanks to its inventive premise and labyrinthine plotting.

The Last Night – Best Original Screenplay of a Short Film
the last nite
The Last Night, a timely and relevant short from director David Strong, centres around a single night during which a UN peacekeeper attempts to negotiate with an insurgent leader in Afghanistan. Equal parts empathetic and critical towards the west’s presence in the war-torn nation, Strong draws on his own experiences in the military to create an authentic and nuanced snapshot of international communications in the Middle East.

Seven Lucky Gods – Best Film
 Also up for Best Film is Jamil Dehlavi’s thriller about an Albanian immigrant who falls in with a group of British elites and changes their lives forever. Not much has been said about the film, but its absorbing trailer and several nominations make it look set to be a festival highlight.

Summer Festivals: Why Mulafest is Best

Written for The Local:

Barcelona’s Sónar has long been the main event of Spain’s festival season. For three days in June, around 80,000 music lovers from all corners of the globe, together with the international music press, descend on the Catalonian city to see the world’s most exciting DJs and producers of electronic music. The festival started in 1994 with performances from Laurent Garnier and Sven Vath, and has since played host to everyone from Kraftwerk to Skrillex. Sónar rivals the Miami Dance Festival and Ibiza as a Mecca of dance music, and has become legendary for both the quality of its line ups and the hedonism of its attendees.

Giving Sónar a run for its money, however, is Madrid’s more low-key Mulafest. Founded in 2012, and based at the city’s IFEMA, the festival runners describe it as a ‘celebration of urban trends’ – daytime activities and attractions include street art, a tattoo convention, skateboarding, parkour, breakdancing and more. The festival boasts a manmade island which, as well as providing a space for drinking and relaxing with sun loungers and various bars, will host the national finals of Street Workout – a worldwide craze and sport based around working out for free in parks and public facilities.

But the main draw is surely the live music lineup for ‘Mulafest Noche’, which is decidedly impressive for a lesser known festival. From head splitting techno to subtle R&B, this year’s roster caters to a range of tastes, with plenty to appease 48 hour caners and discerning chin scratchers alike. Here are our top five picks.


Irony-touting hipster or pop genius? Such is the debate surrounding SOPHIE, a founding member of London’s conceptual pop collective PC Music. He arrived on the scene in 2013 with the single ‘Bipp’ and has since polarised music critics with his saccharine, eurodance-aping productions. Whatever your opinion on the controversial producer, his music is like nothing you’ve heard before, and crowds at this year’s Mula can expect an experience if nothing else.

Desperados stage, 22.45, Saturday 27th


British experimental hip hop producer and recent addition to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music family, Evian Christ shot to success after posting his homemade beats on YouTube and catching the attention of the rapper’s production team. Since collaborating with West on 2013’s Yeezus, he’s enjoyed critical acclaim with his Waterfalls EP and thrown a series of much-hyped ‘Trance Parties’ in the UK. To hear a DJ set from EC, head to the Desperados stage at 4.30AM on Saturday 27th.

Desperados stage, 4.30, Saturday 27th


Kicking off the ‘Noche’ section of the festival is LA’s soulful R&B duo Rhye, a welcome counterbalance to the festival’s abundance of dance oriented acts.

Desperados stage, 21.15, Friday 26th


A multi-talented composer and producer, Jon Hopkins has turned his hand to such varied projects as film scores, pop albums for the likes of Coldplay and Massive Attack, as well as his own textured ambient productions for Just Music and Domino Records.

Desperados stage, 22.30, Friday 26th


Headlining this year and promoting his new album Lantern is Hudson Mohawke, the acclaimed Glaswegian electronic producer and beat-maker to hip hop giants such as Drake, Pusha T and Kanye West, with whom he worked closely on Yeezus. Coming equipped with a brand new live show that’s beguiled crowds at London’s Field Day and Manchester’s Parklife, you can expect fireworks at the Scotsman’s early morning set.

Desperados stage, 3.15AM, Saturday 27th

Many of these acts will also be present at this year’s Sónar, but their appearances at Mulafest are a chance to see them in a more intimate setting, as well as to support a growing cultural event, the affordable admission prices (tickets start at 25 euros) being the cherry on the cake. If you’re in Madrid in June, this year’s Mulafest is not to be missed.