The year 1992 was that of the fifth centenary of the discovery of America, that of the Olympic Games in Barcelona, the Seville Expo, the birth of the IBEX 35 and the signing of the Maastrich Treaty. It was also the year that the Murcia Regional Assembly burned in flames. Molotov cocktails of a workers’ revolt against factory closures during industrial restructuring blurred for a moment the image of progress and modernity of a Spain that preferred to look the other way.
When decades later Luis López Carrasco (Murcia, 1981) told his parents about the conflict in his region, he discovered that they did not know what he was talking about. “They told me that I had invented it. As Parliament is in Cartagena and we lived in the capital, they did not pay too much attention, ”the director reminds EL PAÍS. In his childhood memory, oblivious to centralisms and the Olympic and European euphoria of the moment, the event had been recorded by pure coincidence. Shortly before the riots that February, he had to color the facade of the building at the school. Now try to recover this forgotten story in his second feature film, The year of discovery. Its world premiere is part of the competitive section of the Rotterdam festival, which is being held these days and until February 2.
How I already did in 2013 with his debut The future, López Carrasco returns to play with the documentary genre. If he then recreated a party in the Spain of the 80s in which a skeptical look was drawn about the effervescence of the time, this time he recorded a dialogue between two generations at the La Tana cartagenero bar. “Raúl Liarte, screenwriter and assistant director of the film, often says that probably no one has ever put a camera in this place so far or is going to get back in the next hundred years,” says the director from the Dutch city.
Real testimonies of more than 40 people from the peripheral neighborhoods of Cartagena and La Unión pass between coffee rods and coffee cups. Spurred by the comments of a handful of actors and the questions of the film team, they speak for 200 minutes of economic crisis, trade union struggle, depression and oblivion. “The intention is to always try to enrich the story we have given ourselves,” the filmmaker defends himself, given the possibility of becoming “the official spoiler” that breaks the myths on which recent Spain is built. He says that he does this type of cinema because, after the consequences of the 2008 crisis and with the 30 years already completed, he discovered that “what until that moment seemed solid in the country really had the depth of a newspaper role”.
Before that awkward epiphany, he had already founded the Los Hijos collective, together with Javier Fernández Vázquez and Natalia Marín, colleagues from the School of Cinematography and Audiovisual of Madrid (ECAM) where they had been trained. The intention was to unlearn what was learned, “something to which any student who seeks to gain his own voice is obliged.” Although time has passed in every way, The year of discovery maintains part of that allergy to orthodoxy.
Decades are deliberately blurred in the extensive and choral bar conversation that makes up the film. Filmed in a noventero format like the Hi8 and with an ambiguous use of makeup and costumes, the opinions of its protagonists are interspersed. On the one hand, those of the veterans who lived through the revolts of 92 – “Spain was in ostentation while here we were ruining ourselves,” says one of them during the footage. His memories are complemented by those of the young people in the area, who have only known precariousness. “They carry an improper desolation of their age,” says the filmmaker. The aesthetics of the neighborhood bar tops the construction of this temporary limbo.
Between talk and talk about past issues, the director slides current issues, such as feminism and the visibility of mental illness. But the words of the characters from his film they impose an unexpected reality. “One of our surprises we got was to detect live how the extreme right and racist speeches were penetrating certain parts of the population,” he recalls about a shoot that took place a few weeks before Vox will get representation in the Andalusian Parliament in December 2018. “The other unexpected conclusion was the enormous inheritance of Franco; It continues to influence many more people than we imagined. ”
That unusual way of making movies, he explains, is designed so that unexpected issues happen on the set that the imagination of a screenwriter is not able to create. In this case, the words of those who are not actors ended up taking up much more time on screen than planned at the beginning of the project. This is how he has ended up rebuilding a forgotten fact that at this moment would not go unnoticed: “Now we are used to being surrounded by a very tense media and political story. Any conflict is given a catastrophic dimension. What would happen today if a regional parliament burns with the level of tension that exists in the parties and in the media? ”López Carrasco wonders.