Javier Bardem takes Sons of the Clouds to the European Parliament
by Gonzalo Suárez López
30/05/2012 - Yesterday afternoon, members of the European Parliament watched the documentary Sons of the Clouds. The film's director Álvaro Longoria and his producers, Javier Bardem and American producer Lilly Hartley, attended the screening, along with various politicians and representatives of different movements supporting the Sahrawi cause. After the screening, they each gave their opinion on the issue and answered questions from the audience, packed into the same room where the parliament's Committee of Foreign Affairs usually gathers.
The documentary, which is a little over an hour and a quarter long, broadly outlines how the Sahrawi people of the Western Sahara have been politically marginalised, effectively spending "35 years out in the open". It covers the Spanish government's passivity towards Morocco occupying their former colony, the Polisario Front's armed resistance, the repression of civilians in the Western Sahara, collusion with the United States during the Cold War, and France's automatic veto against any United Nations measure to ensure human rights are upheld in the refugee camps, as well as the independence referendum for the Sahrawi people.
Narrated by Elena Anaya and with animations by Aleix Saló, the documentary also features interviews with the likes of Aminatu Haidar, Felipe González, Jean François Poncet, and Frank Ruddy. These interviews are just as revealing as the fact that José María Aznar, Javier Solana, Kofi Annan, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Giscard d'Estaing, and any Moroccan authorities approached by the filmmaker all declined to be interviewed for the film. The latter also shows Bardem trying to hand over 230,000 signatures gathered by the website todosconelsahara.com (lit. "allwiththesahara.com") to Zapatero when he was still the Spanish president and making a speech defending the Sahrawi cause at the United Nations, all in vain.
Sons of the Clouds is, according to Longoria, "just a drop in the ocean of a much bigger initiative". It's "the historical and ethical obligation to record it," says Bardem. The film, that was presented at the Berlinale, screened in Cannes, and has been out in Spanish cinemas for a little over a week now, is internationally sold by Wild Bunch. In reply to a question by a member of the audience, Longoria said that the film's distribution in France "could make a difference", as in France other critical documentaries such as The New Watchdogs [trailer] have been a great success with the public (read more).
(Translated from Spanish)