The acclaimed director of The Sea Inside returns with his most handsomely mounted film yet, an expansive yet deep-focus drama detailing events around the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Franco’s fascist dictatorship.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
This film is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country. See here for details.
In Alejandro Amenábar latest film, celebrated Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno becomes a lens through which a critical moment in the country’s history is refracted back to our unstable political present. Building meticulously to Unamuno’s famous speech of protest, While at War chronicles the consequences of complacency – and how easily tyrants can ascend to power – with chilling majesty.
“It is 1936 and the Spanish Civil War is in its infancy. We quickly learn that Unamuno – the dean of Salamanca University – has vacillated between sides in terms of his writings, although he would say it is other people, rather than his philosophy that has shifted. Now elderly – and played thoughtfully and soulfully by Karra Elejalde – Unamuno enjoys a small intellectual bubble with friends, a priest Atilano (Luis Zahera) and Salvador (Carlos Serrano-Clark), a young and feisty Marxist, but is dismissive of their fears of the rise of fascism. Meanwhile, in Morocco, in scenes threaded through with inky humour that recalls The Death of Stalin, we see Franco [Santi Prego] carefully and almost imperceptibly manoeuvring his way to the top.” — Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
About the Filmmaker
Alejandro Amenábar was born in Santiago, Chile and raised in Madrid, where his family emigrated 15 days before the Pinochet dictatorship started. He first came to prominence with the cult thriller Thesis (1996) and is best known for directing the Academy Award-winning The Sea Inside (Best Foreign Language Film, 2004). Selected filmography: Agora (2009), The Others (2001), Open Your Eyes (1997).