Review: The Year of the Discovery
- Luis López Carrasco gives a voice to the victims of the lesser known events of 1992, a celebrated year in Spain, offering a re-reading of history in a documentary which demands the truth be told
1992 was a decisive year in Spain: as a result of two mass events which attracted intense media attention - The Universal Exposition of Seville, which marked the fifth centenary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival on the American continent, and the Olympic Games which were held in Barcelona - not only was a raft of infrastructure developed, allowing the country to move forwards, but also – and above all – it was the year which saw Spain take centre stage, catapulted towards modernity, neoliberalism and progress. But what was going on in the rest of the Iberic peninsula at this time? The Year of the Discovery [+see also:
film profile], Luis López Carrasco’s second feature film after the much acclaimed El futuro [+see also:
film profile], answers this question without mincing its words. The documentary was presented on 24 January in the Official Competition of the International Film Festival di Rotterdam.
If there’s one public space which is inclined towards dialogue and discussion, it’s the café, and it’s within one of these establishments (namely the "Café-Churrería Tana: Breakfast and Snack Bar "), situated in the city of Cartagena in Murcia, that López Carrasco shot the larger part of The Year of the Discovery. Its employees and its clients – most of whom wield a cigarette in their hand, as was often the case in indoor spaces at the time of these events and which is now in direct contravention of modern-day laws, a small act of rebellion which has transformed into libertarian militancy against official diktats – speak with the director about the current economic situation in the region where they live, about what happened there in ‘92 and about the consequences of those serious conflicts which hardly anyone told the rest of the country about.
This was because, for the Spanish government, broadcasting harsh images of an area in conflict at a time of exaltation, pomp and celebration went against the lustrous official line and as a result, it was swept under the carpet. With this film, López Carrasco - who was a child at the time – delivers a resounding blow to the official story, allowing the witnesses and protagonists of these events, which were kept under wraps by the powers that be, to bring the truth to light. And so, for three hours – punctuated here and there by archive footage of news bulletins and TV ads singing the praises of investments made in Catalonia and Andalusia – with the screen split in two and a photographic approach reminiscent of late twentieth century home movies (the film was shot on magnetic Hi8 tape, the type many of us handled in the 1990s), a number of voices demand the historical justice that is owed to them.
At a friendly and secure distance, the team’s cameras allow the viewer to become a patron of that noisy café which smells of fried food and tobacco; a melting pot of social classes, ages and ways of interpreting the world which is home to the most wide ranging political ideas. These individuals analyse the present and re-examine the past with the humility, sincerity and truthfulness of ordinary people, stripping back history and rewriting it without the vested interest, cynicism and manipulation of the ruling classes, whether left wing or right.
El año del descubrimiento was written by Carrasco and Raúl Liarte, and is produced by LaCima Producciones (Spain) and Alina Film (Switzerland), with the support of the ICAA and the municipality of Cartagena. The film will be distributed in Spain by Begin Again Films, with international sales in the hands of LaCima Producciones.
(Translated from Spanish)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.