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Politico-poetry: The Cinema of Pere Portabella

Politico-poetry: The Cinema of Pere Portabella

Pere Portabella is one of Spain’s most adventurous and pertinent filmmakers: while being deeply involved in politics (before and after Franco’s death), he also took his first steps into filmmaking, first as a producer (of Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana amongst other films) and then as a director. What is astonishing in the Catalan director’s artistic practice is how the political and aesthetic dimensions coincide fully. Alongside his formally and fundamentally activist early films, the works from his later filmography testify to a more narrative yet free-flowing type of cinema, in which architecture, art and music take a pivotal role in exploring the makings of history, fragmenting and unweaving its representation to better explore the current state of our modern world.


Pere Portabella Spain, 1972

Experimental Catalan director Pere Portabella is highly praised—vividly by Jonathan Rosenbaum—yet under-known, and it’s films like this poetic, fragmentary attack on Franco’s “official Spain” which make him essential. An avant-garde firebomb starring, believe it or not, Christopher Lee!

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Pere Portabella Spain, 1977

The lucid, radical work of Pere Portabella creates an invaluable space for rethinking reality, fiction and the political dimension of both. With this monumental landmark of activist cinema, the filmmaker dissects a crucial moment in Spain’s history: its transition from dictatorship to democracy.


Pere Portabella Spain, 1989

An enigmatic work from one of our favorite filmmakers, Pere Portabella, Warsaw Bridge is both a drama of a love triangle and a study of collective memory. Released the year of the fall of the Berlin wall, this fractured, sophisticated artefact remains a pertinent meditation on the state of Europe.


Pere Portabella Spain, 1973

The film, that took five days to shoot, shows the smelting and casting process of the work known as Puertas Mallorquinas by Joan Miró.


Pere Portabella Spain, 1968

Starkly shot in evocative black and white, Nocturno 29 is a moody masterpiece from renaissance man Pere Portabella (politician, experimental filmmaker, senator, intellectual, and the producer of Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana!) co-scripted by the great poet Joan Brossa.


Pere Portabella Spain, 2006

Carles Santos plays several of his pieces on the piano. This film was made for the exhibit on Carles Santos Visca el piano! held at the Miro Foundation in the summer of 2006.


Pere Portabella Spain, 1974

Pere Portabella’s El Sopar attests to his political involvement around the time of Spain’s transition to democracy, as he invited ex-political prisoners to meet and speak about detention. Made clandestinely and in the strictest secrecy, it was an act of transgression to Franco’s repressive regime.


Pere Portabella Spain, 1968

Through the extremely raging playthings of the words of Catalan poet Joan Brossa, Pere Portabella, in his first work as a director, attempts to dismantle the forms of advertising discourse of the time—Franco’s regime during the sixties.