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70 Years After Start of Spanish Civil War

UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese presents Oct. 10–Dec. 5 film series on Franco era's bloody beginning.

The films we are presenting are not always easy to watch, but they are essential for achieving a fuller understanding of the Spanish Civil War and its continuing impact.

UCLA News
Date: September 28, 2006
Contact: Vanessa Diaz ( vdiaz@support.ucla.edu )
Phone: 310-825-5295

Under the fascist dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco, the Spanish population suffered from severe repression, and it was taboo to talk of the trauma and torture of the 1936-39 civil war that brought Franco to power. But more than 30 years after Franco's death, filmmakers are delving into the unexplored feelings of both the "winners" and "losers" of this bloody Spanish Civil War.

The UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese has coordinated a five-part film series, "Politics of Memory: New Documentaries on the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Era," to showcase the research on the harsh, agonizing realities of the war that were previously unknown to most of the world. 

"First-hand research is always powerful, but to have it shared through a visual medium, such as film, can reach people in an even more intense and personal way," department chair John Dagenais said. "The films we are presenting are not always easy to watch, but they are essential for achieving a fuller understanding of the Spanish Civil War and its continuing impact on Spanish society."

"Santa Cruz, Por Ejemplo" (Santa Cruz, For Example), by filmmaker Günter Schwaiger, the first of the films to be screened, explores the story of the town Santa Cruz de la Salceda, where nine residents were murdered by Franco's brigades. The film features intimate interviews with the victims' families and follows the process of the 2003-04 exhumation of some of the victims. The title of the film represents that this is just one of many examples of similar tragic Spanish Civil War stories that were silenced.

In "La Guerilla de la Memoria" (The Little War of Memory), filmmaker Javier Corcuera traces the lives of a group of Spaniards who were not willing to give up the fight against Franco and fascism, even after the war was declared over. The group fled to the mountains to fight as guerillas and their deeds became a part of popular legend.

"Los Presos del Silencio" (Prisoners of Silence), the documentary by Mariano Agudo and Eduardo Montero, uses the memories of survivors and relatives of victims to reconstruct the stories of prisoners and some of those sentenced to death by Franco.

In "El Convoy de los 927" (927 on the Train to Hell), filmmakers Montse Armengou and Ricard Belis reveal the heart-wrenching story of 927 Spaniards who sought refuge in France after the Spanish Civil War but ended up getting sent by train to a concentration camp in Austria where 87 percent of the men and teenage boys died.  

"Death in El Valle" traces local filmmaker C.M. Hardt's return to her family's tiny village in Spain to try to track down the man who assassinated her grandfather during the years of continuing resistance to Franco which followed the civil war.

Each film screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the film's director or leading Los Angeles-area scholars on Spanish culture and film. 

The series, which will screen at New York University before coming to UCLA, is being drawn from Spanish documentary series "Imagenes Contra el Olvido" (Images Against Amnesia) (www.imagenescontraelolvido.com).  

Here is a complete schedule of screenings: 

"Politics of Memory: New Documentaries on the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Era," Oct. 10-Nov. 14

All films are in Spanish with English subtitles.

Tuesday, Oct. 10

7 p.m., Royce Hall, room 314

"Santa Cruz, Por Ejemplo" (Santa Cruz, For Example)

Presenters: Günter Schwaiger, director; Maite Zubiaurre, UCLA assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese; Shirley Mangini, California State Long Beach professor emeritus of Romance, German, and Russian language and literatures; María Donapetry, Pomona College adjunct  professor of romance languages and literatures.

Tuesday, Oct. 24

7 p.m., Royce Hall, room 314

 "La Guerilla de la Memoria" (The Little War of Memory)

Presenter: María Donapetry, Pomona College professor of romance languages and literatures.

Wednesday, Nov. 8

7 p.m., Royce Hall, room 314

"Los Presos del Silencio" (Prisoners of Silence)

Presenter: Santiago Fouz, author of the forthcoming "Disabled Masculine Bodies in Contemporary Spanish Cinema"

Tuesday, Nov. 14

7 p.m., Royce Hall, room 314

"El Convoy de los 927" (927 on the Train to Hell) 

Presenters: Montse Armgengou, director; David Herzberger, UC Riverside professor of Hispanic studies

Tuesday, Dec. 5

7 p.m., Royce Hall, room 314

"Death in El Valle"

Presenter: C.M. Hardt, director

-UCLA-

UCLA International Institute