(Spain’s Forgotten People)
52 minutes, 2020
Director : Xavier ViLLETARD (France)
Production : Les Films du Sillage (France), France 3 Corse ViaStella
In coproduction with Playtime Films (Belgium), RTBF (Belgium)
On October 24th 2019, Francisco Franco’s coffin left the specially built mausoleum in the Valle of Los Caídos (the Valley of the fallen) where he had been buried since 1975. He left behind an architectural work to the glory of National Catholicism – and the country’s largest mass grave, containing nearly 30,000 bodies. The majority had been fighters from the Franco camp, the remaining third from the Republican camp. This division between the dead of the opposing camps was supposed to symbolize the great project of national reconciliation to extinguish the fire of the civil war. But in the country’s current political context the exhumation of Franco, while a powerful gesture, does not solve all the problems. People who ask to recover the bodies of their parents or grandparents buried in the basilica’s crypt 70 years ago, or who want to excavate the mass graves which still cover the country, are often ignored. Spain continues to pay for a complicated past which it wanted to put behind it. At the risk of provoking outcry from all those ignored by the transition to democracy.
From 1982 to 1988 a press and television journalist (Liberation, the programme “Cinéma, Cinémas”), Xavier Villetardmoved to the film-making with a short documentary about David Lynch. From his subsequent filmography three main themes emerge:
The first is about Russia, with films like “Forever Lenin” or “The Russian Campaign”. The second focuses on women, both remarkable (Edith Piaf, Frida Kahlo, Oum Kalthoum) and anonymous (“Les Filles des Ruines”, “Les Femmes de la Liberation”). The third theme looks at the intellectual adventures of the twentieth century at the crossroads of culture and history such as “Beat Generation” (Award for Best Cinematic Essay at the 2014 Montreal International Festival of Films on Art – FIFA), and “André Malraux, the ordeal of power” made in 2017.
He has more than 20 documentary films to his credit and works regularly with France Télévisions and Arte France.