For journalist, writer and historian Arthur Koestler, any definition comes in short. Genius, rogue, bogus, fraudster or insane are some of the qualities that would fit his resume. Also for the journalist Gerda Grib, he was a character from a novel, someone “cultured, charismatic, and seductive.” And that she also had something she was looking for: safe passages to travel to the Malaga front in the winter of 1937. She wanted to see what the revolution was like in that red city that had resisted the Franco in the midst of the Spanish civil war. He wrote records, but also spied on communism. And they both traveled to a city where, perhaps, they quickly experienced love with ambiance White House In the days before the Nazis occupied it. Its events helped shape the short documentary Heaven is on fireNominated by Joya, with the participation of Pedro Casablanc and Anna del Arco, as well as directed and produced by Jose Antonio Hergita.
Greep’s clean and silly gaze and Koestler’s fox and hound eyes serve Hergueta to portray the desperate and decaying Malaga. He does so in a multifaceted way, because the director says he is a narrator and not a historian who seeks the purest (and impossible) objectivity. Adding to the journalists’ words are the words of British biographer Peter Chalmers Mitchell, the retired zoologist who wrote My home is in Malaga (Renaissance, 2010). He served as a host for reporters and forms the third vertex of a single triangle. “Everyone had their own ideology, their love, but humanity can do it all. This is where these characters are most attractive,” says Hergita, who believes that the Franco invasion of the city left both sides of the evidence: from the government’s abandonment of its residents to the brutal massacre For civilians at the hands of Franco’s allies.
Malaga in the year 37 was an unreal island where the revolution celebrated a false victory. There was another island, Saint Lucia, the city where Chalmers Mitchell resided under the protection of the UK flag. It was in and around El Limonar neighborhood palaces were burned and robbed, but what the newcomers found was nothing heroic. “Yes, it is a somewhat lazy city, perhaps with corruption in power, empty and full of fear,” says Hergita. “It was a moment of great despair,” adds Casaplan, surrounded by the personality of a “witch” drawn by his courage as a reporter. Koestler traveled to the El Burgo, Marbella and Alfarnate fronts during his visit to Malaga, but the previous year he had managed to interview General Quipo de Lano.
Gribe, played by Anna Del Arco, recounted in her scripts what was around her. Everything seemed empty, dead, and there was no road traffic or ships at sea. He didn’t leave the train in a long time. ”The panorama reminds us of what he was living while in confinement in a closed city, with a feeling of sadness floating in the environment and intense fear among the residents. A health crisis helped, paradoxically, Hergita record the last footage of the film, which began filming a few weeks ago. A mixture of documentaries – with portraits by the Norwegian photographer herself or by Robert Kappa – and fictional sequences, Heaven is on fireIt premiered at the end of the year in Malaga. Shortly thereafter, it earned a Goya nomination for Best Short Documentary.
This work is only the first phase of the project that has continued to grow and develop since the birth of the spark in 2005. Since the end of January, Hergueta has launched the second phase: The last days of the revolution, A dozen one-minute articles in which the Koestler chronicles published in the Paris winter of 1937 are restored. Every day – until February 8 – the text corresponding to the same day 82 years ago is released on social networks. The words paint a capital left to its own devices by the republican government, with a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the arrival of 100,000 Andalusian refugees giving way to one of the greatest barbarities of the civil war: the bombing of civilians who fled along the highway. From Almeria. The largest mass exodus of the war has left thousands of bodies – an estimated 5,000 to 7,500 – at rock bottom. The event is known as solve it.
Koestler and Gribe saw that column of people while they were also on their way to Almeria, but the spirit of the Hungarians as a reporter overpowered him. He returned to a burnt city and took refuge in the paradise of his friend Chalmers, even shortly after their arrest. This is where the third leg of the project was born: the feature film Caleta Palace. It will give continuity to the relationship between the three characters and increase the number of testimonies and the historical period, and go back to July 1936. With funding through it, the director of Malaga intends to shoot this film, once again, a mixture between fiction and documentary, in the last quarter of the year.
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