Ibiza has long been the muse of filmmakers thanks to its aura of spirituality and hedonism and it’s fantastic natural beauty. Given its long reputation as a place where people go to drop out of modern life, movies set on the island are mostly concerned with sun, sea, sex, dancing, copious amounts of drugs and Ibiza’s shady criminal underworld. They are often funny, bizarre and probably not worthy of major film accolades, but there’s no doubt that the Ibiza film is very much a thing and they’re still very much being made. There are of course exceptions to the rule – like the poignant Formentera and Amnesia – as well as some great documentaries, and we’ve rounded up the very best of Balearic cinema below, in chronological order for your delectation.
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Tune in, turn on and drop out with More, an artefact of 60s counterculture that features sex, drugs and more drugs on the coastline of Ibiza. It follows an anarchic couple who journey to the White Isle to explore all of the pleasures that lie beneath the Balearic sun but end up embroiled in heroin addiction, the local hippie community and a former Nazi called Dr Wolf. Notable for its Pink Floyd soundtrack and the fact that real heroin, marijuana and LSD were used in the scenes of the film.
1978 Summer Night Fever
Summer Night Fever is part of a bunch of Carry On-esque German-made films with dubious plots that are set in Ibiza and were released in the late 70s and early 80s. Director Sigi Rothemund is responsible for this one, as well as Beautiful And Wild On Ibiza, while lead actor Olivia Pascal also stars in Sunshine Reggae In Ibiza. This is totally pulp cinema but Ibiza romanticists will enjoy shots of the island at a time when it was first taking off as a hedonistic, but still relatively untouched, destination.
1990 A Short Film About Chilling
A Short FIlm About Chilling is one of the first prominent documentaries about the DJ and club scene in Ibiza. Filmed shortly after Danny Rampling and crew’s famous trip to Ibiza, it’s a snapshot of the island’s “golden years” in terms of club culture, with footage from Ku (now Privilege) and Es Paradis, interviews with early converts like Terry Farley and Soma co-founder Orde Meikle and music from the era’s finest in 808 State, Bocca Juniors, The Orb and Andrew Weatherall-produced Primal Scream.
The film’s producer Kevin Sampson was also managing acid house band The Farm at the time and with London promoter Charlie Chester hatched a plan to put on a gig in Ibiza featuring The Farm, A Man Called Adam, 808 State, DJ Harvey and the aforementioned Farley. Sampson reckoned Channel 4 would pay for a documentary about the whole thing and he was right. He roped in Angus Cameron, who’d been making music videos for Creation records, to direct and the crew were off to the White Isle to commit the ensuing shenanigans to film. The documentary aired to 2.5m viewers on August 31 1990 and has since gone down as an acid house classic.
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2000 Kevin & Perry Go Large
Now 20 years old, Kevin & Perry Go Large’s reputation as one of the most memorable Ibiza films is still intact. A big-screen outing for the characters that co-stars Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke developed in the Harry Enfield & Chums TV show, the film landed at the height of their fame at the forefront of UK comedy and satirised dance music during the peak of the superclub era. Dance music had become enshrined in popular culture, with Sonique, Madison Avenue, Spiller and Modjo all bagging number ones in the singles chart in the summer of 2000 and a Cream and Mixmag obsessed Kevin The Teenager running riot on the big screen.
The film follows Kevin and Perry as they get to go on a holiday to Ibiza but on one condition – Kevin’s parents get to come. The pair head off on a coming-of-age journey that skewers DJ culture and the rampant labidos of teenage boys (this was also the era of the Lads Mag). Some of the puerile humour hasn’t aged well and Eyeball Paul’s use of revenge porn is downright problematic, but the movie remains a document of Ibiza as a destination for young people looking to let loose, find love and make their DJ dreams come true with some tourists still visiting the locations where it was filmed. The soundtrack features everyone from Fatboy Slim to Groove Armada to Underworld and it was the number one film in the UK upon its release.
2004 It’s All Gone Pete Tong
It’s All Gone Pete Tong came at the end of a particularly illustrious run of dance music films that started with Clubbed To Death (Lola) in 1996 and included Human Traffic and Go (‘99), Groove (‘00), 24 Hour Party People (‘02) and Party Monster (‘03).
When superstar DJ Frankie Wilde suddenly goes deaf he has to rebuild his career and get back to being number one. The mockumentary has the same producer as Human Traffic in Allan Niblo and a soundtrack boasting usual suspects like 808 State and Orbital as well as Ferry Corsten and Deep Dish, and there’s cameos from Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Paul van Dyk, Tiesto and Pete Tong, who plays himself and also has an executive producer credit. While it didn’t receive critical acclaim, the film is beloved of ravers thanks to scenes in all the top Ibiza clubs, including Amnesia and DC:10.
Arthus of Poulignac is part of the Parisian glitterati but ends up falling from grace and starting afresh in Ibiza as a party impresario. This fabulously camp film sees him rise to the top of the island’s celebrity elite with plenty of slapstick scenes along the way. Perhaps one of the better moments of Ibiza kitsch on the silver screen.
2008 And The Beat Goes On…
And The Beat Goes On… is a documentary fronted by English actor Jimi Mistry who goes to Ibiza to see what the hype is all about and whether the old magic of the island can still be found. Given the White Isle had well and truly exploded in popularity by this point, the film manages to tread a line between its famous nightlife and its ancient spiritual side. There are interviews with Guetta, Andy Cato, Danny Tenaglia, Alfredo and Rampling, Tongy, Oakenfold and Walker as well as footage of Pacha and Amnesia. Mistry also find himself at a full moon ceremony. Give this a watch for one of the more up-to-date portraits of the island.
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Here’s a belting dance music film that romps its way through acid house-era Manchester, London and Ibiza. It’s centered around two best mates who get fully stuck in but then realise the endless high of the rave scene is gilded with a dark underbelly which they must navigate to save themselves and their friendship. The soundtrack is bursting with house music from the era too.
Aside from the drugs, sex and dance music showcased elsewhere in this list, Ibiza has also been the setting of more poignant sort of film. Set on neighbouring island Formentera and taking its name from it too, this film is about a couple who go on a romantic holiday only to become alienated and estranged from each other.
2013 One Zero One: The Story Of Cybersissy and BayBjane
If you’ve raved at Pikes or Amnesia, chances are you’ve seen BayBjane strut her stuff. The charismatic drag queen is one of the most legendary performance artists on the island, having come to the island in 2008 to front David Guetta’s F*ck Me I’m Famous! party at Pacha and now she graces the stage at Cocoon and Cosmic Pineapple. One Zero One is the story of how she was ‘discovered’ by fellow drag artist Cybersissy and it’s told in a fairy tale-esque style.
Not to be confused with the 2002 Italian comedy-drama of the same name (and maybe worth digging out if you’re looking for some Ibiza movie deep cuts), Amnesia is a moving story about a DJ newly arrived on Ibiza from Berlin and a woman who has lived alone on the island for 40 years. They bond over music and slowly enter a relationship that will provide epiphanies for both of them.
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2016 White Island
A former DJ who’s quit the party scene and especially Ibiza is dragged out of his now normal life in London and into the messy criminal underworld of the White Isle. He’s got to save his best mate who’s got mixed up in some dodgy shit and together the pair navigate their way through the highs and lows of the famously renegade island. One of those that’s perfect for a hangover…
2017 Zombie Spring Breakers
...As is this UK horror movie that was previously titled Ibiza Undead and gets a shout for how utterly ridiculous it is.
2019 Born Balearic
And here we are at the most recent depiction of Ibiza at the time of writing. Born Balearic is a documentary about long-serving White Isle DJ Jon Sa Trinxa, who was born in England but has ended up making Ibiza and, specifically, the southern beach of Sa Trinxa, his home. He DJs there every week and has become part of the very fabric of the island, just one of many souls who have found affinity with Ibiza and never looked back.
Seb Wheeler is Mixmag's Head of Digital, follow him on Twitter
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