Remarkable footage of a Barcelona anti-austerity demonstration – and its quelling – shaped into a lyrical tribute to the spirit of protest by Victor Kossakovsky ( ¡Vivan las Antipodas!) and 32 Spanish film students.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
On 29 March 2012, Spain’s staunch labour reform and austerity measures triggered a general strike throughout the country, bringing its major cities to a standstill. In central Barcelona, the demonstrations escalated and protestors clashed with police armed with rubber bullets. Abetted by 32 students attending his Creative Documentary course at Pompeu Fabra University, the perennially inventive Russian documentarian Victor Kossakovsky (¡Vivan las Antipodas!) captured events from vantage points around the city. Despite the turmoil, the city’s opera house remained open. Léon Minkus’s Don Quixote was on the programme and the opera becomes the film’s score. It seamlessly and brilliantly melds with, or ironically comments on, the images of crowds advancing and scattering, fleeing police brutality, then surging forward again in defiance. Amongst the throngs, the cameras hone in on a handful of individuals and find their own Don Quixote railing against a corrupt world. Combining lyricism, humour and gravity, Kossakovsky and his young collaborators distil their images of valiant, protesting humanity into a marvellous and haunting ‘film ballet’. — Sandra Reid