SAN SEBASTIAN — Producer Angel Amigo, a driving force with Imanol Uribe behind Basque Cinema’s early 80’s first flowering, is teaming with José Luis Egea – co-director with Victor Erice of 1969’s San Sebastián Silver Shell winner “Los Desafíos” – to make “Desterrados,” a fiction feature centered on Luis Cernuda, one of Spain’s greatest modern poets.
“Desterrados” marks one of a string of Basque projects which seek to explore Basque Country identity, historical and current, within a European context.
Also written by Egea, “Desterrados” turns on Cernuda’s first exile and friendship, when he worked as a monitor for Basque Spanish Civil War evacuees in southern England, with one of them, José Sobrino. This was the bonding of two outcasts – Cernuda, a Republican and homosexual, and Sobrino, a refugee from the Basque Country. which Nazi Germany’s Condor Region used to test their blitzkrieg tactics, and the son of a humble metal-worker.
Sobrino suffered from a congenital illness. Cernuda records his death in what become one of his most famous poems, “Elegía a un niño vasco muerto en Inglaterra,” written in Cernuda’s mix of a lilting style, with a large sense of cadence, sensitivity for fellow exiles, and premonition of his own death, in exile in Mexico 25 years later.
“Cernuda’s poem became world-famous, and is one of the most iconic poems of the poet, recounting an event which sadly occurs time and again down to this day,” said Amigo.
He added: “Few people know, however, when or why Cernuda wrote the poem and that is the subject of ‘Desterrados.”
Based on real events and characters, “Desterrados” will be set up as a international co-production. Its figures take in not only Cernuda but also Stanley Richardson, the English poet (and briefly Cernuda’s lover) who first lures him to England, and Gavin Faringdon, an English lord who fought in the Civil War for the Republicans and offer shelter to Basque child evacuees, many severely traumatized by the Civil War, at Hackford Lodge at Buscot Park, outside Oxford. Such elements make “Desterrados” ideal to international co-production, said Amigo.
Bursting onto the Basque film scene with “Escape from Segovia,” the 1981 autobiographical account of Amigo’s 1976 derring-do escape with other ETA menbers from a Spanish high-security prison. Abandoning ETA with democracy, Amigo also produced the 1988 “Ander eta Yul,” a tale of Basque cross-the-political tracks brotherhood which played at San Sebastian and Victor Erice’s “Dream of Light,” regarded as one of the director’s masterpieces, which won the Cannes Festival’s Jury Prize in 1992.
“Desterrados” will mark the second feature from Egea, who after “Desafíos” pursued a career in advertising.