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ONE Blanket Between Two is a mesmerising and melancholy short film from artist Sonia Boue, recalling the exile from fascist Spain of her father Jose Garcia Lora.
Boue uses a variety of media in her work, which can be witty and full of whimsy as well as deeply moving. Memories of family, forced emigration and a yearning for “home” are essential themes in the pieces she creates.
In post-Franco Spain, the so-called pact of forgetting has tainted family history. The law on historical memory passed only in 2007 is still contested by many and Boue’s family was not alone in having a silenced trauma, the hardship of the past going unspoken.
She has named the new film Hush, and told the Morning Star this week: “I was interested in the idea of opening up spaces for conversations which have felt too risky before.
“Hush has a lovely soft and peaceful sound to my ears. 'Hush now' is what we say to comfort someone — though it can be used harshly — and I was very interested in the idea of transmission and reception of information, and the readiness of people to listen.”
This eight-minute film draws on her experience in making The Art of Now: Return to Catalonia for BBC Radio 4 in 2018, still available at bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09w05z7.
Deciding to revisit that work during the current lockdown, Boue has used film of a “performance ritual” on the beach at Argeles-sur-Mer.
It was to this French commune, near the border with Spain, that her father came in early 1939, as part of the exodus, known as the “retirada” of almost 500,000 Spanish Republican refugees, fleeing for their lives from the Franco regime.
Many walked day and night in gruelling conditions to reach France, only to be held in abysmal internment camps on public beaches. The sea was a natural boundary, with the area surrounded with barbed wire. The weather was bitterly cold when they arrived in February and the refugees dug hollows in the sand in attempts to get warm.
Boue’s assemblage sees her, compete with blanket, digging in the wet sands and then merging family snaps with some of Robert Capa's photo-reportage of Camp Argeles, as well as that fragment of oral testimony from her father: “We had one blanket between two.”
This is a beautiful piece, which could break your heart and mend it again. It’s a subtle work, replete with the skill of the artist and the love and duty of a daughter.
In the film, Boue says: “You know what, I really wish that dad could have known about this... wouldn’t it have been incredible if he just could have known that I would try to honour his memory?”
There's melancholy, too, in a superb short musical film made to honour Turkish hunger strikers Helin Bolek, Mustafa Kocak and iIbrahim Gokcek, who died fighting for freedom of expression against the regime of President Erdogan.
More than 120 Greek musicians, singers, actors and technical crew came together in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens to perform Tencere Tava Havasi (Sound of Pots and Pans). In the great tradition of charivari, as we bang pots in protest or praise or both, the mix of musical cultures here signifies supreme solidarity.
Despite a horror and deep grief at its heart — and a story covered extensively in the Morning Star — it is six minutes of great joy. m.youtube.com/watch?v=ouJSeTiBM-4
On the theatre, music and dance front, online is exploding with a variety of choices and to help you navigate, visit thespie.com.
Searching is easy — by genre, pricing (a lot is free) and even by mood. Its Artist Talk section of unpretentious interviews with actors and others, is worth a look if only for Helen McCrory and her fond, funny recollections of being an earnest youngster working with the irreverent Judi Dench.
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