A memory to share ?
In the Northern part of Spain, in Aragon : houses in ruins, crumbling facades and streets barely recognizable among the rubble. Those are the remains of the old village of Belchite, the scene of terrible fights.
A few hundred yards from there, a « new » village was built, by Franco's commands.
The two villages are standing there, side by side, witnessing the events from the present and from the enigmatic past. But nothing seems to be able to connect those two villages.
The memory of the people living in the new village is slowly fading away, just as the abandoned remains of the old Belchite are crumbling.
Belchite : the old village
Belchite : the new village
The film shows how History can't be told by a single person, and how one's memories can contradict others'.
The film refuses condemnation and manichean debates, it will distance itself from the historical and political investigation, to show how a complex intimate memory is expressed, that's the only way to get a kind of universal dimension. By getting closer to a local and very specific reality, the film will also express something that a lot of European countries have experienced : a memory that is fading away, generation after generation, whithout being passed per se.
The narration of the documentary changes thanks to the questioning and the discoveries of the narrator, but also thanks to the stories and the reactions of the characters. The narration follows a sinuous path...
The narrator is a traveller, a bit naïve, who knows nothing about the area he's exploring, he is trying to understand what exactly happened in Belchite, and how and why it happened.
« I got a grant from the Centre National de la Cinématographie (National Center for Cinema) to help me write the film and another grant from the Conseil Régional de Bourgogne so I could travel several times to Belchite for the location scouting. I went there with a translator, Carlos Antoniassi. I also worked with Jaime Cinca Yago, an historian who has been working on Belchite's history for years. We talked for hours !
His advice were priceless during the shooting : it helped me distinguish the historic truth : in Belchite, one often ears one thing and its contrary.
Then, we met several inhabitants of Belchite, from all ages and political opinions. It all happened very naturally and smoothly. People opened up with no fear, they seamed to trust me, probably because they felt that I wouldn't judge them. As a foreigner, they could feel that I was « neutral ».
After a while, people actually came to me spontaneously to tell me their own stories. I recorded them all in a studio. I went with them to the site of the old village, until I was familiar with them.
This way of working, alone with someone, with no camera pointed at the person interviewed creates a greater proximity, one can easily forget the mic. It creates an atmosphere of trust, of warmth, a complicity which enables to access intimate and secret parts of the memory. Several people told me and my mic some things that they said they never expressed before.
After this bond was created during the audio recording sessions, the characters were filmed in their everyday life and in their intimacy.
To each day its own adventure, simple and ordinary. »
After four trips to Spain in a year and almost 100 hours of rushes, the shooting is finally over.
Born in Marseille (south of France) in 1956, Marc Weymuller has been writing and directing movies since 1969 : fictions or documentaries about absence, about fringe ways of lives, about loss and disappearing.
On those themes, he directed : L'Attente (The Waiting – 1996), a fictionary short film with no dialogue, Ici et là-bas, récit d’un voyage immobile (Here and there, the story of a static trip – 1998), a fictive wandering in the streets of Lisbon, Malgré la nuit (Despite the night – 2004), a portrait of a fringe religious man, Quatre Murs et le Monde ( Four Walls and the World – 2009) about the last days of the writer José Dias de Melo from the Azores and La vie au loin (Life a long way away – 2011) a documentary about an isolated area in Northern Portugal.
All those films have been programmed and awarded in great festivals. For more information, please check the following website (in French) :
Those films would not have been the same without Xavier Arpino, the chief operating officer with whom Marc Weymuller has been working for years.
« With shoes laced up tight as my insurance policy.
With a camera as as extension of my eye, and beyond, of my mind.
Someplace else, far away, where I wasn't expected.
Out of curiosity, by chance, by need...
Photography as a weapon to caress the world... »
Check out his photogallery :
« Les Films de l'Avalée » is a production company based in Burgundy, born in 2005. Three people (Simon Gillet, who is also a filmmaker, Catherine Simeon and Beatriz Garcigoy) are actively and creatively working to produce projects with a fresh and unique approach, with an eye on the realities of our world.
"We saw all of Marc's films and we loved them right away, for they are poetically looking for a fading world, and because his style is as firm as it is personal : a unique way of paying attention to details, faces, light and sound. We truly believe in this film. We also believe that it has every chance to be noticed, we are happy and proud to work on this project."
Marc Weymuller very clearly explains the logic of his point of view : a French man filming stories which belong the the Spanish people. His position as a foreigner allows him to set free a story that has often been censored, his legitimacy has immediatly been acknowledged by our Spanish co-producer Pantalla Partida. This production company is based in Madrid and they have been working with us on this wonderful project.