Pablo Iglesias, the pony-tailed leader of Podemos, has found someone to film him. For several months now, the Spanish moviemaker Fernando León de Aranoa has been following him and his colleagues at Spain’s new anti-austerity party to make a documentary about what he views as history in the making.
León de Aranoa, who is best-known to English-speaking audiences as the director of Mondays in the Sun, explains how he got the idea for this project.
“It was born out of a perception that predates the summer of last year, a sense that something unique was happening on our country’s political scene,” he explains. “In fact, the question we asked ourselves then was, ‘Is anybody telling this story?’”
The question we asked ourselves then was, ‘Is anybody telling this story?’” Director Fernando León de Aranoa
“It was on that premise that we contacted them,” continues the director. “What attracts me in terms of the narrative material is the exceptional nature of this phenomenon: here’s a new political group that lacks a presence in parliament yet is disputing power from the large traditional parties. And as it is inventing itself, it is simultaneously constituting itself, adding interest and tension to the tale. It’s like a ship that went out sailing while still under construction.”
This perception of history being made has already taken the filmmaker to several Podemos rallies in various Spanish regions. Many journalists noticed him in Seville in mid-January, recording an event that featured Podemos eurodeputy Teresa Rodríguez and the head of an Andalusian workers’ union.
The only real hurdle he has encountered so far is his own lack of time. These days, León de Aranoa is also completing post-production on a feature-length film called A Perfect Day, starring Tim Robbins, Benicio del Toro and Olga Kurylenko . “Part of the difficulty of this project has been to combine its first steps with the completion of A Perfect Day,” explains the director in an e-mail. The movie, which is scheduled to premiere on August 28, follows a group of aid workers who are trying to pull a corpse out of a well in the Balkans.
The Podemos project will not be León de Aranoa’s first documentary. Earlier, he portrayed Mexico’s Zapatista movement in Caminantes (2001), and he tagged along with the singer-songwriter Joaquín Sabina during his Vinagre y rosas tour, which produced the documentary Sabina (2011).
The director is cautious about offering a completion date for this latest initiative, and says that even though filming has begun, he and his team are still throwing ideas around.
His closest reference, he reveals, is the 2009 By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, by Amy Rice and Alicia Sams.
“Our documentary has to do with that movie at least in intention, in that it shows the genesis of a process of great political intensity,” he says. “We also have other references, such as part one of Patricio Guzmán’s La batalla de Chile, or Robert Drew’s Primary, about JFK’s victory at the Democratic primaries.”
De Aranoa is completing post-production on A Perfect Day, starring Tim Robbins, Benicio del Toro and Olga Kurylenko
León de Aranoa’s work has always been impregnated with a social commentary that he hopes will be there in this movie as well, making the story relevant beyond the general elections.
“The natural time-frame for this movie will take us to election night [presumably in the fall], which could well be the most interesting election day in years. But I think we need to go beyond that; the movie must be interesting regardless of the results on election night. This is not a campaign movie. It aspires to be a political film whose value lies in the mid to long-run,” he says. “Because of the exceptional nature of both Podemos’ character and of the present moment, I believe that it is important to put it down on record.”