CAIRO: Documentaries were a no-show at the Cairo International Film Festival this year but Spanish director Antoni Verdaguer did manage to present a glimpse of the overlooked genre in his film Raval Raval , mixed fiction with real footage.
Like the title suggests, the film is named after the Spanish/Catalan city in which Verdaguer currently resides and is a story entirely inspired by the residents of the city.
Verdaguer has spent quite some time observing the city s residents and their complex relationships and decided to write a film that would combine these real-life stories.
Home to various minorities and immigrants, the city provided rich material for the director to pick and chose from the stories.
He started with 25 stories and narrowed them down to about 10, Verdaguer told The Daily Star Egypt.
He then worked on integrating the stories that survey the lives in the ghettos, the forgotten elderly and the aspirations of the young.
And as the stories were inspired by reality, the acting was also real. Instead of opting for professional actors, Verdaguer chose his cast from the residents of the neighborhood he featured in his film.
The film is the borderline between fiction and documentaries, he said.
In theory the project was a challenge but the final cut was outstanding, as crude as documentaries and as sentimental as screen dramas. As the camera jumped from one story to the other in a documentary style it managed to keep the plotline flowing like any fictional film.
It s difficult, however, to say whether viewers sympathize with the characters due to the reality of the film or the well-written script that highlighted the right emotions at the right times.
It s more of a musical, Verdaguer said in reference to the prominent role music plays in the film. The music has set the mood for the scenes, whether desperate, hopeful or nostalgic.
The emotional background and the real stories provided the prefect mix for the director to voice his opinion against Spain’s strict immigration regulations. Verdaguer believes in a world without borders.
As a solution to the rising problem of integrating minorities, Verdaguer believes it isn t just the job of the minorities or the immigrants to reach out with the natives, but the process has to go in both directions.
In the film, the successful integration experiences are only so when both sides try to understand and accept each other.
Spaniards, he explained, used to immigrate to other parts of the world. Now Spain is on the receiving end.
Ironically, Catalan culture, part of Spanish heritage albeit with different language, is treated in the film as part of the minorities. In an effort to raise the profile of the Catalan culture, the film displays the credits in both Spanish and Catalan.