From Documentary to “Monumentary”, a Hard-Hitting Film By Ramón Lluís Bande
by Julien Camy
The section Resistencias at the Festival of European cinema in Seville presented 11 films. This section aimed to show films from the avant-garde and experimental cinema, but especially independent films made outside of the traditional system of production (for more details see Senem Aytac’s article about this section).
This area of experimentation is also marked by commitments and speeches trying to not be solely in opposition, but also in parallel, to the cinema industry. Thereby, ”Here and in Other Time” (Equí y n’otru tiempu, 2014) directed by Ramón Lluís Bande calls to mind little-known events of Spanish history in Spain and other countries. Between 1937 and 1951, more than hundred of republican guerrilleros were killed in the Asturia region by the Civil Guard and Franco’s Fascist Milicia.
The film begins with some black and white still images showing 5 guerrilleros in the Asturia forest. Over the course of one day, a photographer had followed them. A few days later, only one of them had survived a fascist attack. The director’s record is testimony and we listen to him in front of these photos, diving inside the faces of the Republican resistance fighter, taking the time to detail each one.
The second part of the film – the longest part – is a succession of still shots of forest, countryside, roads, fields, clearings, paths… In all those places, guerrilleros were shot dead over a period of ten years. Each shot is preceded by a very formal indication of the place, the date, and the names of the dead. This choice of “mise-en-scène” appears to be rigorous, meticulous, and is accented by very strong framing. Little by little, the documentary is becoming a “monumentary”. In the Q&A following the world premiere screening at the Seville Festival, Ramón Lluís Bande explain that his rigor was willing to set up a memorial for the dead guerillero of Asturia from this period, in a goal to “convert the document in monument”. Indeed, the formalism of the film transforms the shots – as the sound and movement of nature alone animates them.
Bande succeed with brio and simplicity, using all the suggestive strength of cinema, which is the only way to project the memory of these resistance fighters into an eternal imagination while remaining very real: to make the invisible visible.
The director also uses time to build cinema: the length of the shots permits a moment of reverence and summons, within this repetition, the spectator him/herself. It afflicts him/her individually and collectively. We, and they, are not alone anymore. The film is an exchange process and the projection of the movie is an open-window onto a reality. It is also an essential work of memory, one that has to be kept alive, something cinema can do.
Ramón Lluís Bande closes his film with a third part: in front of a totally black screen we listen to a revolutionary strong. “Red scarf” will never surrender, it will keep fighting again fascism, it said.
The formal beauty of ”Here and in Other Time” is merciless, laconic and effective. It won the Fipresci prize at the Festival of European cinema in Seville.
Edited by Tara Judah
© FIPRESCI 2014