Victor Iriarte surprises Venice with an author’s look at stolen babies and the wounds of Francoism

Sometimes one image contains a movie. For example, two women on the river bank. They have red nails and they are sleeping. In these two people, still nameless and without a past, Victor Iriarte knew there was history. It only remained to find out which one. This image was born four years ago and stuck in his head. Almost at the same time, he began “a series of readings and conversations with friends about the recent history of Spain and the case of the stolen babies.”

Emma Stone, the sexually liberated Frankenstein feminist in Yorgos Lanthimos’ quirky Poor Creatures.


This “open wound” from Spain’s recent past has fueled an image of nameless women that will never go away. Both incentives were crossed. These two people were two mothers. One is biological. Another, foster mother, and they were an embryo Especially at night, one of the most amazing Spanish films of the year, which started its career at the Giornate degli Autore in Venice. These faces now have the features of Ana Torrent and Lola Dueñas, two of the most enigmatic actresses in Spanish cinema, perfect for this political, auteur film that mixes historical story, heist film and drama in a free and unclassifiable form. .

Iriarte, a programmer for the San Sebastian festival, believes the film also answers “anxiety that arises about recent history, crime in Spain, historical memory, and how cinema addresses not only the subject but how from the form there, it is also what the one who leads has to offer.” The importance of shape in reaching the bottom. Or how the form is political. Therefore, he resorts to the codes of Hollywood noir or French polar cinema, adding elements of melodrama to archival images.

A film that is unlike anything else and calls into question the exemplary “Transition” that has been on sale for so long. “I think our generation is fortunately in this memory review and obviously we understand our parents’ generation and that difficult moment when they enthusiastically signed up and voted enthusiastically. But now, 40 years later, when you see these images, which are also presented as an archive in our film, you see them from a different place, because a lot of things happened, and right now we associate it with a specific political moment in Spain. that now We are again talking about what we are, what kind of model of territories we have…”.

Especially at night “It’s a very direct demand to reconsider what is an injury.” “The case of the stolen babies is still in very serious legal limbo, and in the film we see similar examples. I’m making this little connection, also a little emotional, with Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Our film claims that you need to think again, but from a creative point of view, because I think it also suggests that these are two very different characters who share that they are victims and try to understand each other. And I think from there I can also state that we need to redefine our memory, that there will be justice, redress, and that we will rethink who we are,” he adds.

We must re-evaluate our memory, ensure justice, redress and rethink who we are.

Key to this is “cinema and popular cinema”. This historical memory must be approached not only in terms of what is told, but also in terms of how it is told. From “form”. “I attach great importance to this “how”. There’s a line in the movie, “The only thing they couldn’t take away from me was my story and the way I tell it,” and I think that’s the key moment.

There are also echoes of Hitchcock in those two women dyeing their hair blonde to strike. marnie the thief. “There is something beautiful about this noir gesture: although she is dyed blonde, and at the beginning of the film she is a brunette, she is still the same woman. There is something that we can associate with Bolagno and many things related to spies, such as international connections, mystery, a character in one city, then in another, a night call … all this is imaginary, which for me is very literary, like in the Spanish case of Vila-Matas, when he wrote so much about spies at the time when there were these Anagram novels,” he says of other factors that influenced the film. This costume is also “a kind of performance art”. A kind of “ritual, as if you dyed yourself and you are already a different person.” “I think we all do it a little. I’m going to Venice and I’m going to get my hair cut…or shave after COVID. A change that I think is part of who we are.”

In the union of these women who help each other and find each other, there is a future of healing the open wounds of Francoism. It could have been a film “about enemies and revenge”, but for Iriarte, it’s their friendship that keeps things moving forward, although like good film noir, “there’s always going to be tragedy.” Also because “the story is tragic, but the reality is very harsh.” But despite this, there is a claim to “space for understanding and dialogue” in a film that combines content and form to offer one of the most original insights into Spain’s historical memory.

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