Spain Cinematography – The New Century

The Republic and the civil war

According to best-medical-schools, the Republican government showed an interest in cinema that manifested itself in various ways. In October 1931 the first Spanish-American Congress of Cinematography was inaugurated in Madrid; two years later the Consejo Cinematográfico was created to defend the cinema industry. In 1935 there were four thousand cinemas in Spain, eleven factories and several production companies, among which CIFESA (Compañia Industrial Film Español), founded in Valencia in 1932, which would play a fundamental role in Spanish cinema of the 1940s. The directors who had made their debut in the previous decade adapted to the new system: Perojo made La verbena de la Paloma (1935), a valuable version of the homonymous zarzuela; Rey shot a trilogy interpreted by Imperio Argentina, La hermana San Sulpicio (1934), Nobleza baturra (1935) and Morena Clara (1936); the Frenchman Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast made La traviesa molinera – Le tricorne – It happened in Spain (1934), a film shot in three versions (Spanish, French and English) with the system of double successive takes; in addition, the first female director of Spanish cinema made her debut, Rosario Pí, author of the strong melodrama El gato montés (1935); Buñuel took over the reins of the new production company Filmófono, with which José Luis Sáenz de Heredia and Luis Marquina collaborated. The great director had recently shot one of his most important films, Las Hurdes, also known as Tierra sin pan (1932), an unclassifiable work, straddling the documentary, political denunciation and surrealism. At the end of 1935, therefore, everything suggested that for the Spain a veritable golden age of cinema was about to begin: a variety of themes, new directors, a thriving industry and very popular films attracting audiences. But this ferment was cut short in July 1936 by the insurrection of General Francisco Franco against the Spanish Republic: three years of war would have killed the new Spanish cinema.

The civil war turned cinema into a propaganda tool on both fronts. On the republican side, fiction almost completely disappeared, with some curious exceptions such as Antonio Sau’s Aurora de esperanza (1937), produced by the anarchist-oriented union. Government, parties and trade unions devoted their efforts to documentary, reportage and propaganda; at the same time many foreign filmmakers who supported the Republic were welcomed, leaving testimony of their passage with unforgettable films such as for example. Spanish Earth (1937) by Joris Ivens and Espoir by André Malraux (made in 1939, but released only after 1945). the CEA or CIFESA, on the other hand, put all their infrastructures at the service of Franco’s cause. In 1938 Franco imposed preventive censorship on the cinema, which would not disappear until well into the 1960s, and created the Departamento Nacional de Cinematografía. During the civil war the fiction was produced, for the Francoist part, by a Spanish-German company for which B. Perojo (Mariquilla Terremoto, 1939) and F. Rey (Carmen de la Triana, 1938, La courtesan of Seville) worked, who shot all his films in the Berlin UFA factories, where Imperio Argentina and Estrellita Castro sang Andalusian songs among German technicians and Nazi hierarchs. The result of the German collaboration was the documentary España heroica (1938) by Fritz C. Monch, Paul Laven and Joaquín Reig, in which even PJ Goebbels, the Minister for Propaganda of A. Hitler, took part.

The new century

The victory of the conservative popular party in 1996 brought about a change in cultural and therefore cinematographic politics, which changed the rules of the game, allowing the affirmation of the most relevant phenomenon of these years: Santiago Segura who, after the successful Torrente, el brazo tonto de la ley (1998), with the subsequent Torrente 2: Misión en Marbella (2001) received the highest grossing and the greatest public success in the history of Spanish cinema. This cinematography has therefore appeared characterized, in its most recent results, by a great variety of directors and themes which guarantees its vitality. On the one hand, the naturalist and realist current has continued to bear important fruits: authors such as Fernando León de Aranoa, Achero Mañas or Salvador García are proof of this. However, also the genre of comedy and horror film have been renewed with Ventura Pons, Miguel Albaladejo, Joaquín Oristrell, Daniel Monzón or Alvaro Fernández Armero; at the same time a more experimental and research cinema has established itself, in the works of Marc Recha, José Luis Guerín or Pablo Llorca. The 21st century it presents itself full of possibilities still to be exploited, thanks also to digital technology and the lowering of production costs, constant cooperation with Latin American countries and the mixing of genres. Further changes in cultural politics could be determined by the change in the political scenario due to the victory in March 2004 of the socialist coalition led by JLR Zapatero. Daniel Monzón or Alvaro Fernández Armero; at the same time a more experimental and research cinema has established itself, in the works of Marc Recha, José Luis Guerín or Pablo Llorca. The 21st century it presents itself full of possibilities still to be exploited, thanks also to digital technology and the lowering of production costs, constant cooperation with Latin American countries and the mixing of genres. Further changes in cultural politics could be determined by the change in the political scenario due to the victory in March 2004 of the socialist coalition led by JLR Zapatero. lower production costs, constant cooperation with Latin American countries and the mixing of genres. Further changes in cultural politics could be determined by the change in the political scenario due to the victory in March 2004 of the socialist coalition led by JLR Zapatero. lower production costs, constant cooperation with Latin American countries and the mixing of genres. Further changes in cultural politics could be determined by the change in the political scenario due to the victory in March 2004 of the socialist coalition led by JLR Zapatero.

Spain Cinematography - The New Century