Among the darts that the main candidates for president of Spain throw at each other in the campaign for the elections on Sunday the 23rd, they took care of dusting off an evil that the Spaniards had believed to be rid of with the end of Francoism: censorship.
“We will not allow a step back in everything that represents the free expression and creation of artists”, said the president of the government and PSOE candidate for re-election, Pedro Sanchez, when criticizing the restrictions or modifications in the cultural agendas that some municipalities in which Vox has just set foot are implementing.
“We are seeing that the agreements of the Popular Party (PP) and VOX threaten culture,” added Sanchez to emphasize one of the consequences of the policies of the right-wing coalition that, after the result of the municipal and regional elections in May, already governs in more than 140 Spanish town halls. And that, according to the results of the polls on Sunday 23, could govern all of Spain.
“They have ‘swallowed’ censorship in a town from a Virginia Woolf play from a hundred years ago, Mr. Feijoo,” Sanchez reprimanded Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the PP candidate, during the only face-to-face debate they had.
Sanchez he was referring to the program change in the Valdemorillo municipality, in the Community of Madrid, where Vox governs together with the PP and where Orlando, Virginia Woolf’s play on homosexuality, was going to be performed in November, but not anymore.
Something similar hpened with La villana de Getafe, by Lope de Vega, which is on stage in Madrid: the explicit sexual allusions in the adtation of Lope’s text “uncomfortable”, according to Vox.
“It is not an inquisition, it is imbecility,” said the former PP Secretary of Culture, Jose Maria Lassalle.
Lasalle was secretary of the government of Mariano Rajoy, between 2011 and 2016. But he is no longer affiliated with the Popular Party.
“That you do not allow a work by Virginia Woolf or Lope de Vega to be seen and that you frame it in a reactionary, conservative, is that you are stupid”said.
As an antidote to the return to censorship that the pact between the PP and Vox could imply, the newly born Organization for Artistic Liberation, which brings together cultural figures, issued a statement.
“Let no one be mistaken. They try to silence us and we are not going to allow it”they expressed.
Days later, at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, the act Against a Censored Coexistence was organized. President Pedro Sanchez participated and several manifestos in favor of cultural freedom were read, to which artists such as Joan Manuel Serrat, Pedro Almodovar, Rosa Montero and Gioconda Belli, among other personalities.
Pedro Sanchez insisted: “Censorship is making its way in municipalities, cities and autonomous communities in which it is prohibiting the broadcast of films and the celebration of plays of artists”, were his words before the latest scandal broke out in his face: a documentary that has him as the protagonist.
The filmmaker Carlos Hernando filmed a film critical of the figure of the current president of the government.
He interviewed several former senior officials of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) who do not agree with the way of doing politics of the current candidate for re-election and called him “The autocrat. A political portrait of Pedro Sanchez”.
With the original horizon of the general elections in December, Hernando began working on the script for his documentary in May. But the electoral advance that Sanchez announced a day after the municipal and regional elections on May 28 upset the plans.
“I thought about throwing what I had done in the trash until a friend insisted that I finish it. I made the documentary in 18 days ”, he tells Clarion Hernando, who was nominated for the Goya Awards for Auschwitz violinist a short film about a victim of the Holocaust.
He had several cinemas in Spain interested in showing his documentary in which people close to the PSOE cogs such as Joaquin Leguina, former socialist president of the Community of Madrid, or Rosa Diez, former PSOE European parliamentarian, contributed their version, not at all favorableabout Pedro Sanchez.
To be screened, the documentary had to obtain certification from the Institute of Cinematogrhy and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA), a process that became a nightmare for Hernando.
“I have processed it numerous times and it is a simple process. Except this time, which They even asked me for the documentary to have subtitles in Basque and Catalan (which are also official languages in Spain)”, says the director.
“This is not a ban. It’s something more subtle. If we don’t want to call it ‘censorship,’ we can say that it is about hindering a cultural product,” she points out.
“There is a political motivation”, Hernando believes.
“With the delay, those interested in exhibiting the documentary started getting off,” he says. Some even received political pressure”.
“Then I decided to release the rights”, clarifies the director, who a few days ago uploaded the documentary to the YouTube channel of the production company Promio Films.
“This film belongs to all Spaniards. It is no longer a commercial product but a public service. From Patagonia they can see this documentary”, says Hernando.
According to him, “four million people saw it in four days. The last of Indiana Jones did not reach a million.
Before dedicating himself to cinema, Hernando was a journalist for more than a decade. Today he regrets that former colleagues and friends ologize for not reflecting on the Spanish press what is hpening with your documentary.
“I don’t think it will come close. On some issues we are hostages,” a journalist from the public agency Efe confessed to him via chat.
Paradoxically, the day before, during the delivery of the most prestigious awards in Spanish journalism, King Felipe VI had stated: “Without independent journalism, there are no free opinions.”
“It is essential to safeguard that courageous journalism with the cacity to attract, monitor, denounce, describe… Narrate what hpens, in short, and do it with an inalienable ethical and deontological commitment,” the King of Spain postulated.