February 3, 2005

Madrid 11M: The Short Films

From the English press kit for Madrid 11M: Todos Ibamos en Ese Tren/Madrid M11: We Were All On That Train, a compilation of 27 short films produced by DocusMadrid, a non-profit organization which supports Spanish documentary films:

On March 11th, 2004, Madrid suffered a chain of terrorist attacks on trains en route to the central station, killing nearly two hundred people and destroying or altering the future of thousands who were affected directly by the tragedy.

A group of film directors had the intention of going deeper than the usual news coverage and wanted to contribute a plurality of viewpoints, resulting in a collective film in memory of the victims of the M11 attacks, in solidarity with them and their relatives, in repudiation of the violence of terrorism and with the will to defend democratic values and the freedom to coexist.

Among the points of view told: the account of a blind survivor of the blasts; a family fearing their father is dead, only to spot him later on television helping with rescue efforts; people with birthdays on March 11th; "invisible" victims like the illegal immigrants and the closeted man who lost his lover but couldn't come forward. The synopses for all 27 segments is posted after the jump.

What's not reproduced: the oddly official-sounding bureaucratese of this originally impromptu project's sponsoring organizations.

Madrid 11M site, mostly in Spanish

LET LIFE ALONE BE HEARD
Writer / Director: BORJA MANSO
Six people from different origins and classes carry-out their daily routines each morning before taking the train; an enamored adolescent, a retiree, a working mother, a 10-year old boy, an Ecuadorian immigrant and a college student. Through the sounds of each one we follow them on their usual paths until they board three different trains.

BLIND
Writers / Directors: DAVID LARA and JAVIER FERNANDEZ
On March 11, 2004, Andres Oteo waited in Madridís central train station, Atocha, while his train, on track number eight, filled-up with passengers. During this brief period, train number 17305, which had just pulled into the station and was barely fifty meters away, suddenly exploded. Helped by an anonymous bystander, Andres was evacuated from the station in the middle of the chaos and in absolute darkness. The testimony of his experience during that day reveals the horror of M11 through the emotions of a blind person.

HERNANíS JOURNEY
Writer / Director: GONZALO TAPIA
Every Thursday and Friday, Hernan commutes by train from his house in Villaverde to Santa Eugenia, where he continues with a co-worker by car, to their office. On the morning of M11, his train passed through the Atocha and El Pozo stations without perceiving the misfortunes that were about to occur. When he arrived at the Santa Eugenia station and the doors of his wagon opened, he was witness to the horrors that had just happened moments before.

VICTIM ZERO
Writer / Director: MIGUEL ANGEL NIETO
Tomasí family was convinced that he had died in the train that exploded in Atocha on M11. Tomas took the ill-fated route daily at that hour. In the middle of the confusion of the first few hours, his wife called him and he did not answer his mobile. A distressing certainty settled over his home that he had become one of an infinite number of victims. Until his sister-in-law saw him on television: Tomas was helping evacuate the wounded. At 4pm, Tomas left the scene, rambling, in an altered state, until he reached the Madrid Planetarium and began to cry. For several days he did not want to speak nor eat and could not sleep. His anonymous hands saved many lives, but made their mark on his own.

OCTOBER 12TH
Writer / Director: JAIME CHAVARRI
Like all medical professionals who worked on March 11th in Madrid, there will always be a before and after in the life of Luis Yubero, an emergency room doctor at October Twelfth Hospital. This short documentary is a tribute to those professionals.

NEIGHBORS
Director: NACHO MAURA
The reaction of the Santa Eugenia residents upon the arrival of the ìother neighborsî in town: The affected and wounded victims of the M11 terrorist attacks. How to approach them, or how not to approach them for fear of bothering them, of being rejected, but mainly, how to face the circumstances of those who come back or those who have stayed, but are missing someone.

PASS IT ON
Writers / Directors: VICENTE MORA and DANIEL QUI‹ONES
Are you alright? Aznar twiddling his thumbs? Urdaci director of ìLa Farolaî? These were some of the SMS messages that circulated from mobile to mobile during the dramatic days between the brutal M11 attacks and the electoral hangover. For the first time, a mode of communication, which we also used to share our fears and sense of chaos with our most intimate contacts, became a mass-communication instrument that eluded any controls.
OSWALDO: ON THE VERGE OF A DREAM
Director: ESTELA ILARRAZ and CARLOS CARMONA
Oswaldo Cisneros, Ecuadorian immigrant, was unharmed when he walked-off a train that exploded in Atocha, yet he died in a second explosion while trying to help the wounded. Through the testimonies of his sister, Teresa, his companion, Alicia, and a son of hers, we take an intimate journey through Oswaldoís life, his personality, his neighborhood, the dreams that brought him from Ecuador to Madrid and how he followed those dreams, day by day, as a construction workerÖ until the final outcome brings his life full-circle.

THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF MARCH11th
Directors: TWIGGY HIROTA and ROCIO SIERRA
As a result of the attacks of M11, the Spanish people go out to the streets in protest of all that happened. The government is not facing the circumstances, neither informing the public in a timely manner nor telling the whole truth. The motive? General elections are around the corner on M14. Silence, uncertainty, pain and fear take control of the expressions on the citizensí faces. Madrid becomes an emblem of black ribbons, Spanish flags and, why not, popular exaltation.

THE GRANDKIDS OF TIO RAIMUNDO
Writer / Director: JOSE HEREDIA MORENO
Located fifty meters from the commuter train station, the ìAdalÌ Caliî (Gypsy Madrid) Center is one of the busiest places in the town of El Pozo de Tio Raimundo. The center offers tutoring, adult reading classes, driverís education for new readers, computer classes and flamencoÖ but the ìstarî activity is the AvutnÛ-Vaxt IV Trade School, where teens learn carpentry, masonry, electricity... almost all complete their program, which includes a high school degree, and are placed in fulltime jobs. After the M11 attacks, several students dropped-out of the school because of their own fears or their familiesí. This was their great career opportunity.

MINUTES OF SILENCE, TIMES OF NOISE
Writer / Director: PEDRO BARBADILLO
A few hours after the M11 explosions, citizens in all of Spain paid a tribute to the victims, through several minutes of silence. A dense, solemn and contained silence fell on the streets and plazas of almost all the large cities. A form of expression, through silence, opposite the violence of the attacks. But also against other forms of violence, some less visible than those of the explosions, but no less aggressive towards life and the planet. This short documentary alternates those moments of emotional silence, through archive material recorded on those days, with a series of clips of the noise of different violent situations, opposing that silence.

A DAY WITHOUT LIGHT
Writer / Director: JOSE F. ECHEVERRIA
How is it that a Muslim girl is killed in Madrid in an action of ìholy warî, executed by Muslims? Sanae was 13 years old, born in Madrid and did not know her father. Every day, upon arriving by commuter train at Atocha, Sanae took the metro and walked from there to school. Just like any one of us, surprisingly ìnormalî, defying our prejudices. This is a short story of a day full of emptiness, in which there was the life of a girl who was becoming a woman, a girl who was named ìLightî in English. That Thursday, Sanae also traveled on the 7:10am train. But her uncle Amhed did not go with her, as usual. That cursed Thursday she did not arrive at school. ìItís in Godís handsî, her mother says.

DE-MO-CRA-CY
Director: MIGUEL ANGEL ROLLAND
March 12, 2004. 7pm: Millions of Spaniards go to the streets to express their rejection of terrorism and their solidarity with the victimas, as summoned by Aznarís government. March 13th: Day of Reflection. Thousands of Madridís residents gather on Genova Street, in front of the seat of the Popular Party (PP): against manipulation, in the name of truth and democracy. March 14th: The PP loses the general elections, blaming their defeat on the attacks and the protests.

IN SECRET
Director: SERGIO CABRERA
(Based on a true story)
A man writes a letter with the intention of giving it to a film director. He goes to the Atocha Train Station to meet the director, while the words of his letter describe a relationship he had with another man and how the M11 attacks have made it impossible for him to participate in the memorial services for the dead because their relationship was clandestine.

THE EYES OF THE INNOCENT
Writer / Director: GONZALO VISEDO
Childrenís view of the horror. The vision of barbarism in the youngest childrensí drawings. Children in a classroom, in a school, anywhere in Madrid. Everything told through their hands, crayons, colored pencils and paper as a medium of expression. They are the only protagonists. They, the innocent, draw the line on the day that noone will forget. Without questions, without adults telling them what to do, except for the teacher by their sides, and whose face is never seen. A script that they are going to write with their drawings, their spontaneous words, their voices narrate what they have made... the eyes of the innocent.

CANDLELIT STATION
Writer / Director: CATHERINE ULMER
Sanctuaries are sacred because memory dictates it so. Sacred are the wounded places, which open a breach in time, a mysterious channel between the living and the dead. Perhaps the Atocha Train Station will no longer be the same. Next to the routine movements of the passers-by coexist prayers, pain and hopes. We wanted to reflect it without faces nor testimonies, only with atmosphere, messages, sensations.

LIKE THE OTHERS
Writer / Director: ANGELES GONZALEZ-SINDE
Any workday morning in a shared home in the town of Coslada, where ten people of Rumanian nationality live, some related, others not. The first alarm clock goes off and the workers awake. We accompany the inhabitants of the house in their daily routine until we stay with Razvan, who goes, like every day, to the station of the train which takes him to his job. This short documentary depicts the daily privacy of foreign workers who live in Spain, so often invisible, and yet so affected by the M11 attacks.

BIRTHDAY
Writers / Directors: LESLIE DANN and GUIDO JIMENEZ
The M11 attacks have marked us all, but how have those who were going to celebrate their birthday experienced that day? This short documentary gathers the testimonies of several people who were born on March11th and one of a mother who gave birth that same day in one of the hospitals that received hundreds of wounded. The interviewees reflect on the day of their birth in relation to the dramatic events, with the apparent contradiction of crying over the tragedy and celebrating life.

TO DIE IN MADRID
Writer / Director: ALFONSO DOMINGO
That anonymous and heroic Madrid of almost sixty years ago is the same open and generous city that has been shocked by the M11 attacks. In order to compare those moments and to talk about the people of Madrid, the Manuel Bartholomew CossÌo de Fuenlabrada School held an unusual activity: The projection of the documentary ìTo die in Madridî by Frederic Rossif and a dialogue between the students and Carmen Bueno, widow of the writer Eduardo de Guzman. Carmen had just turned 18 years old when the Spanish civil war began. The objective was to compare sensations and experiences about the horror of war and violence. During the dialogue on old and new terror, questions arose on the civil war, the dead, the hospitals, the people of Madrid at that time and also the attitude to adopt after M11.

SPANIARDS BY BLOOD
Writer / Director: MANUEL MARTIN CUENCA
Henry is from Bolivia. He came to Spain looking for work and left his family in his country. Maria is Colombian. She arrived in Spain three years ago to work on a pig farm. There, she met Jairo and they started to live together. Edilse is also Colombian, and she shared a room with Gloria, her husband and another friend. All of them lived in the town of Torrejon de Ardoz. All worked illegally. On March 11th, Henry and Jairo took the train together. Gloria went by herself. Every morning she woke Edilse up and left for the train because she had to be at work earlier. Henry survived the attacks, but Jairo and Gloria died. A day later, the government announced that it was going to grant working papers to people affected in the attacks and their relatives. It was a special consideration towards the victims of terrorism.

LIFE GOES ON
Writer / Director: OSCAR VILLASANTE OCHOA
Cristian and his friends met almost every Saturday on a horse farm, where five of them work. There, they have their traditional celebrations, with Rumanian food, drink and music. Two weeks after the M11 attacks, they had a birthday party but it was a complete failure. All were sad and they went home early. They decided to meet again to have a celebration like they used to before M11.

THE BREATH OF MEMORY
Writer / Director: MARIA CAMPUZANO and JORGE IGLESIAS
The memory of relatives and friends fight against the emptiness left by one of the victims.

MAY IT NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN
Writer / Director: MIGUEL SANTESMASES
At recess, children from 8 to 10 years old talk about what happened on M11 in Madrid.


CONTINUITY MICROSEGMENTS
Direction: ANGELES VACAS and OCTAVIO ITURBE
The same commuter train route from the town of Alcala to the Atocha Train Station on any given workday after M11. From the windows of the train and from the windows of homes along the tracks. Reflections, details and fragments: landscapes, stations, actions, faces, objects, gestures and sounds of a train ride without apparent incidences.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: February 3, 2005.

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