Bones of Contention

About the Film

“Bones of Contention” is the first nonfiction feature film to explore the theme of historical memory in Spain, focusing on the repression of lesbians and gays under Franquismo. Lining the roads of Spain, masked by miles and miles of pine trees, are unmarked graves in which over a hundred twenty thousand victims of the Franco regime are buried. Today the families of the desaparecidos lead a grassroots effort to uncover and identify the bones of their loved ones, despite opposition from the Spanish government. Invisible to the eye but hyper-visible in the mind, these mass graves of Spain’s missing persons are an apt metaphor for the historical memory conundrum.

How does a country excavate a past that is actively suppressed?

The film weaves together two strands, the historical memory movement’s campaign to uncover the past, and the search for the hidden lives of lesbians and gays under Franco. These strands are connected through the figure of Spain’s most famous poet, Federico García Lorca, who was killed by a right-wing firing squad in the first few weeks of the Spanish Civil War. The mystery of his missing remains and the debates over their significance provide the narrative spine of the documentary, as he has become the symbol today for both the historical memory movement and the LGBT movement.




Bones of Contention features interviews with:
Laura García Lorca, President, García Lorca Foundation
Emilio Silva, Founder, Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica
Antoni Ruiz and Silvia Reyes, imprisoned by the Franco regime due to their sexuality
Isabel Franc and Empar Pineda, lesbian witnesses and activists
Fernando Valverde, poet and Lorca scholar

A film by Andrea Weiss
Executive Producer Greta Schiller for Jezebel Productions
Funded in part by U.S./Spain Fulbright Award Fellowship and The Puffin Foundation

Director's Statement

When I was living in Barcelona in 2011-12, I often walked its ancient streets. One evening I stumbled upon a political demonstration in the Plaza Sant Jaume, the crowd clamoring for “historical memory”. Moved by the dedication of the participants and even just the melodic phrase “la memoria histórica,” I was driven to explore this subject further. As a lifelong historian, first by natural inclination and later by formal education, I have always bemoaned the lack of interest on the part of my own country in examining its past. The United States is so future-oriented, quite convenient for a country intent on avoiding an investigation of our role in slavery, Vietnam, and so many other atrocities. I was surprised by the presence of these demonstrators, and impressed that in a time of rising college tuition costs, labor strikes, and massive unemployment in Spain, what happened 75 years ago still is considered urgent.

Because of my sense that LGBT history can serve as a site of resistance against official narratives, the film had to go beyond the historical memory movement’s fight to gain some sort of justice for the disappeared. I also needed to learn what happened to the LGBT community under Franco, and place that story firmly in the context of the larger human rights struggle. This film brings together my love for the work of Federico García Lorca, my decades-long commitment to uncovering forgotten or erased corners of LGBT history, and the deep affinity I feel with Spain, as I have come to consider Barcelona my second home. I am honored that the people who appear in my film have trusted me with their stories, especially on a topic that is still so difficult and painful to discuss within Spain.


  • Isabel-Franc-and-Antoni-Ruiz
  • Demonstration-for-historical-memory

The Creative Team

Andrea Weiss

Writer, Director, Producer, Editor


Andrea Weiss is a documentary filmmaker and nonfiction author. She is the co-writer/director of the feature documentary Escape To Life: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story, which premiered in the Berlin and Rotterdam Film Festivals. Her other film credits include Recall Florida, I Live At Ground Zero, Seed Of Sarah, Paris Was A Woman, A Bit Of Scarlet, UN Fever, Before Stonewall (for which she won an Emmy Award), Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin’ Women and International Sweethearts Of Rhythm which premiered in the New York Film Festival.

Weiss has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and New York Foundation for the Arts as well as a Fulbright Fellowship to Spain to produce her latest film, Bones of Contention. She holds a Ph.D. in History, and co-directs the MFA Program in Film at the City College of New York. Watch Andrea discuss “Bones of Contention” at the Berlinale.

Carmen Vidal Balanzat

Director of Photography


Carmen Vidal is a Spanish writer, director and director of photography. She is the recipient of a Student Academy Award® (Oscar) and six NY Emmy® Awards. Her work has been exhibited at the United Nations, ARTE TV, PBS, the Museum of Modern Art. As a director of photography, Carmen has specialized in documentary films, including Of Kites and Borders (Dir. Yolanda Pividal, Winner of Best Documentary at the San Diego Film Festival, 2013), Sloan at 75 (Dir. Lisa Beth Kovetz, 2011, winner of a Communicator Award), U.N. Fever (Dir. Andrea Weiss, 2007) and Silences (Dir. Octavio Warnock-Graham, 2006, winner of three College Emmy Awards).



Cast



FERNANDO VALVERDE

GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING POET AND LORCA SCHOLAR


SILVIA REYES

CABARET ARTIST


MIGUEL CABELLOS

AUTHOR OF GARCÍA LORCA’S LAST THIRTEEN HOURS


LAURA GARCÍA LORCA

PRESIDENT, GARCÍA LORCA FOUNDATION



ISABEL FRANC

PRIZE-WINNING LESBIAN AUTHOR


EMPAR PINEDA

FEMINIST ACTIVIST


EMILIO SILVA

THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE RECOVERY OF HISTORICAL MEMORY


ANTONI RUIZ

PRESIDENT, THE ASSOCIATION OF EX-SOCIAL CONVICTS


Contact


For International Sales please contact:
Doc&Film International
13 rue Portefoin
75003 Paris, France
T: +33 1 42 77 56 87
sales@docandfilm.com

To book the film within the U.S., please contact:
Icarus Films
32 Court Street, 21st floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
T: 1 (718) 488-8900
mail@IcarusFilms.com

To invite the filmmaker, or any other inquiries,
contact Isabella Schiller at info@jezebelproductions.org