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20. Josep; movie review

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Title : 20. Josep; movie review
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Cert TBA
71 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

Crikey, I didn't know that the French had their own concentration camps at the beginning of the Second World War - for Spanish refugees.
This moment in history had been lost on those of us who haven't studied the Spanish Civil War in which thousands fled for their lives from the dictator Franco.
The republicans who battled against his forces were shown no mercy after their defeat and sought refuge across the border.
Aurel's animated movie shows that the French were not especially hospitable which was ironic given that their country was about to be taken over by Nazis.
It opens in February 1939, seven months before the Second World War, as France is overwhelmed by the flood of Republicans from Spain.
They park them into unsanitary camps with very little if any food and in the charge of tyrannical guards.
The brutal actions of the latter go against the grain of Serge (voiced by Bruno Solo) a gentle former gendarme who tells the story to his grandson from his deathbed many years later.
It transpires that one of Serge's charges is the famous artist and anti-Franco fighter Josep Bartolí (Sergi López) with whom he strikes up an unlikely friendship.
Aurel's film is a fascinating animation, partly represented by moving images but also combined with still drawing which seem to include some of Bartolí's own.
He squirrelled away drawings of his time in the camp and became famous for them during later exhibitions.
Indeed, in his further life, he became friends with internationally-renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, as the film touches upon.
Mainly, however, it focuses on the injustice meted out to the poor people who had fought for Spanish freedom and were then persecuted by the French.
The artistic way the story is told suits its subject but does not detract from the horrors which man inflicts upon man.
As said, it is a history of which I was unaware and I was pleased to be enlightened.
* Jospe was part of My French Film Festival which is running across several digital platforms.

Reasons to watch: Enlightening and attractive
Reasons to avoid: The cartoon style may jar with some

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: Cartoon full frontal
Overall rating: 8/10

Did you know? After the Nationalists, led by General Franco,  claimed victory in the Spanish Civil War, approximately 20,000 Republicans were executed

The final word. Aurel: "This "encounter" brought together a ton of topics which were dear to me or which I’d been passionate about for a long time: drawing, of course (and what drawings!), the war in Spain which I was vividly interested in ever since I discovered, as a teen, Ken Loach’s film Land and Freedom, and Spain in general, a country I have very strong feelings for." Cineuropa

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