Opposition through film in Clandestí: Invisible Catalan Cinema under Franco

25 Nov

Little is known of the hardship the Spanish people experienced under Franco’s dictatorship from 1939 to 1975 due to press censorship and isolationism. However, a new series of films created in secrecy during his regime are set to reveal this suffering first hand, some for the first time.

Clandestí: Invisible Catalan Cinema under Franco, which takes place tomorrow until 30th November at BFI Southbank, features works produced by a group of Catalan filmmakers who chronicled the lives of workers, activists and artists living in one of the most fierce centres of opposition to the fascist regime.

These brave artists were connected with workers’ movements and outlawed opposition parties, such as Santiago Carrillo’s Communists, and managed to distribute their film through recreation centres, private homes, cinema clubs, universities and schools. Many of the films have no credits in order to protect the identities of their participants.

Active during the ‘60s and ‘70s, filmmakers such as Pere Portabella were too young to have fought in the Spanish Civil War and documented their unwillingness to conform through their filmmaking, their chosen tool of opposition. Over the course of six films the exhibition treats many issues, among them the lack of freedom of speech at the time and the fate of political prisoners; little is it known that there were internment camps for political prisoners in Spain before Hitler’s final solution. It is also interesting to see footage of protests that took place towards the end of Franco’s rule in Portabella’s The Ongoing Political Struggle.

Marta Sanchez, Clandesti Programmer, said: “This is the most in-depth study of these works made by the most courageous Spanish filmmakers under Franco’s dictatorship. It has taken over two years of profound study to bring the works of this unknown movement to light. These are the only existing documents that portray the reality of Spain during the latter years of the regime. The films are rough, wild, anarchistic, but ultimately pure and full of free spirit. Where is that spirit in filmmaking now?”

“I am sure the audience will love this unique collection of films, not only from a historical point of view, but from an artistic one also. I hope they provoke dialogue and discussions about the value of freedom in art, our personal attitudes towards political fight and freedom of speech in our daily life.”

Image: europeanbookshop

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