A Time For History

in 49th Valladolid International Film Festival

by Margarita Chapatte Lopez

Last year’s edition of the Semana Internacional de Cine de Valladolid celebrated the 20th anniversary of “A Time for History”, a not-so-easy task if we take into account it’s a part of the festival dedicated just to documentaries. After more than 20 years, “A Time For History” compiles movies that show moments and historical events from a privileged point of view. In its 49th edition, the Festival screened 24 documentaries from around the world with a variety of different topics. It’s worth noting the Spanish contribution as the rebirth of the documentary in Spain is worth a second look. The new century offered us a new way to look at this genre, breaking cliches and predictable points of view. This has led to an actual revolution of the documentary in our country.

Examples of this evolution are the seven Spanish productions and one co-production that formed part of this section. For instance, 20 Years Are Nothing (20 años no es nada), by Joaquim Jordà, shows us how the workers of Numax run the company by themselves; Spanish Boxes (Las cajas españolas), by Alberto Porlan, records the rescue of works of art during the Spanish Civil War; Heaven Turns Around (El cielo gira), by Mercedes Álvarez, depicts the lives and memories of the residents of a small Spanish town in Soria; Beyond The Fence (Más allá de la alambrada), by Pau Vergara, tells of the Spanish survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp; and The Train Made Of Wolfram (El tren de wolframio), by Ramón de Fontecha, concerns the trade of this mineral in Europe during the Second World War. Also, of worthy mention are the co-production Flamenco Heritage (Herencia flamenca), by Michael Meert, about the youngest members of the Carmona’s family, the band Ketama; Blackwhite, by Achero Mañas; and the short Chatting (Platicando), by Marisa Lafuente, about the inmigrant victims of the terrorist attacks of March 11th.

The “A Time For History” section offers a First Prize of 12.000 euros and two Second Prizes of 6.000 euros for the directors of the winning documentaries. In this edition, the jury of the festival wished to emphasize the quality and variety of the subject matter of all the documentaries screened. The two second prizes winners were 20 Years Is Nothing (20 años no es nada) by Joaquim Jordà (Spain) and Saving the Spanish Heritage (Las cajas españolas) also by a native Spaniard, Alberto Porlan. The winner of the First Prize was The Boy Who Plays On the Buddhas of Bamiyan, by Phil Grabky of Great Britain for showing hope, through the eyes of an innocent child, in a world under destruction. For over 25 years, Afghanistan has been at war. In March 2001, the ruling government of the Taliban destroyed the tallest stone statues in the world, the “Buddhas of Bamiyan”. This film was shot over the course of one year and it follows the story of one of the refugees that now lives among the ruins, and his 8 year old boy called Mir.

Margarita Chapatte