Spain’s Cre-Accion films production company consolidates its commitment to socially significant docus with a human focus in “Blue Days,” an emotionally charged item that charts the process of the opening of a mass grave containing the remains of post-Civil War victims of Francoism. Low on political detail but high on personal anecdote, docu shows that the Civil War continues to affect lives 70 years after it ended and, more generally, is a muted reminder of the need of closure in people’s lives. Politico fest sidebars are likely to take a look, with theatrical a possibility in select Spanish-language territories.
Events have provided an engrossing, if tragic, script. In 1943, the brothers of Isabel and the slightly older Asuncion innocently handed themselves in to the right-wing authorities and were subsequently executed and buried along with about 40 others, close to a highway in a remote village. The grim event was common in many Spanish pueblos at this time.
Until recently, exhumation of the graves has been considered a barrier to progress. But now the graves are being opened so that the dead can have proper funerals — allowing Isabel and Asuncion to keep an old promise to their parents.
Edited down from 120 hours of footage, docu takes the audience through the exhumation and forensic analysis of bones, but the substance is in the interviews with locals, which indirectly deal with the psychological consequences of the burials on the community.
Questions are asked about where the executioners are (they were locals), while some are still afraid to speak out all these years later: Skinheads have scrawled graffiti on Asuncion’s walls. Some believe the exhumations are counterproductive, since they are wiping away traces of the tragedy. One old man reveals he knows where other bodies are buried. Upsettingly for the two women and viewers alike, the bones exhumed are finally shown not to have belonged to their brothers.
Docu’s two elderly subjects are terrific characters who work in wonderful counterpoint to one another — Isabel religious and more emotional, Asuncion a non-believer and more straight-talking, with moments of gentle humor resulting from their different attitudes.
Lensing is sometimes intrusive on people’s grief, particularly Isabel’s, and music is sometimes overused.