Spanish Film Festival

The Spanish Film Festival is on at the moment around the country, and it has a stream on the Spanish Civil War which includes:

A WAR IN HOLLYWOOD is an in-depth look at the impact that the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship had on the North American film industry.

Hollywood used the Civil War as a subject in more than 50 films. The defeat of democracy in Spain left an “open wound” in the heart of liberal actors, directors and screenwriters in the US, who used affection towards democratic Spain as a symbolic feature to define the romantic spirit of their characters. This sympathy, however, was shaped according to the American political tendencies of each period.

This evolution is narrated through the personal story of Alvah Bessie, a Hollywood screenwriter who fought as a member of the International Brigade.

This meticulous documentary includes excerpts from Casablanca, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Way We Were among others, and commentary by actress Susan Sarandon, screenwriters Arthur Laurents and Walter Bernstein and cinema historians Román Gubern and Patrick McGilligan.


THE ANARCHIST’S WIFE. Set during the harrowing years of the Spanish Civil War, this moving drama spans several decades to tell the story of one young couple’s undying love in the face of terrible obstacles.

Idealistic young lawyer Justo’s (Juan Diego Botto) political activism against Franco’s Nationalists separates the couple for years as he goes into hiding and is ultimately deported to a concentration camp, but Manuela (Maria Valverde) steadfastly clings to as much of their old lives as possible in rapidly deteriorating circumstances, raising their children and facing multiple tragedies on her own. After the war, Manuela uproots her life to rush to Justo’s side, only to find that she must again share him with a cause.

Husband-and-wife filmmakers Peter Sehr and Marie Noelle employ impressive historical detail and evocative imagery to tell this story of a single family that finds that unyielding devotion does not come without a price. The talented European cast is lead by two talented Goya winners, Botto and Valverde, and the young star of Pan’s Labyrinth, Ivana Baquero.


SWIMMING. A grandfather who disappeared and was executed in the Civil War for carrying out three armed attacks; a grandmother who died of Alzheimer’s; and a mother suffering from the same illness.

SWIMMING is a highly personal documentary from first time filmmaker Carla Subirana that traces the lives of three generations of women in her family. Setting off in search of her grandfather with only his name Juan Arroniz to begin with, the film is a bid to retrieve both personal and historical memories from her aging grandmother and ailing mother before it is too late…

Focusing on themes that are key to Spain’s identity – the loss of historical memory, forgetfulness and the search for personal identity through the reconstruction of the past – Subirana presents this compelling narrative with wit, charm and a shot of thriller-like intrigue.

Rjurik Davidson

Rjurik Davidson is a writer, editor and speaker. Rjurik’s novel, The Stars Askew was released in 2016. Rjurik is a former associate editor of Overland magazine. He can be found at and tweets as @rjurikdavidson.

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