Almodovar unearths ghosts of Spain’s Civil War in latest film with Penelope Cruz

ACCLAIMED Spanish director Pedro Almodovar delves into one of Spain’s most enduring wounds with his latest film focusing on the tens of thousands of people who disappeared during the civil war and are buried in unmarked graves.

Spain’s most famous director opened the Venice film festival on Wednesday with his new film ‘Parallel Mothers’ in which he teamed up once again with Penelope Cruz.

The film, an historical drama set in one of Spain’s darkest episodes, during the Spanish Civil War, explores the fate of two women giving birth in the same Madrid hospital hospital on the same day.

It highlights a political issue that still haunts Spain in modern times.

Some five decades after the death of General Francisco Franco and a ‘pact of forgetting’ which drew a line with the past in an attempt to allow Spain to move forward to democracy without recriminations for past crimes, unmarked graves litter the Spanish countryside.

Hidden within them are the remains of an estimated 100,000 people who were executed by Fascist squads during the three-year-conflict or the ensuing dictatorship.

Over the last 15 years, volunteer teams have been exhuming graves across Spain and returning remains to relatives for proper burial.

But campaigners have long fought for state aid in locating and exhuming the graves and in telling the stories that the Franco regime sought to erase.

Now Almodovar has taken up the issue.

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“I wanted to give this topic visibility, and I believe that in Spain after 85 years, until we’ve paid this debt we owe to the ‘desaparecidos’, we will not be able to close the chapter of our recent history,” the 71-year old Oscar-winning film-maker said ahead of the official presentation of the film.

 “Spain has an enormous moral debt to the families of the disappeared,” Almodovar told reporters.

“We can’t just close our eyes in front of what happened.”


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