Monday, 1 September 2014

Speaking Truth About Power: Documentary, Censorship, and Rocío


Rocío (Fernando Ruiz Vergara, 1980), a.k.a. the rabbit hole I fell down during August.
    It started with a book review. I was working my way through a backlog of film magazines, when a book review (by Antonio Santamarina) for El caso Rocío: La historia de una película secuestrada por la transición (edited by Ángel del Río Sánchez, Francisco Espinosa Maestre, and José Luis Tirado) caught my eye in the May edition of Caimán Cuadernos de Cine. 'A film hijacked by the Transition' piqued my interest, as did the fact that the film was a documentary (yes, that is what I'm supposed to be looking into at the moment) and that the book came with both a copy of the uncensored version of the film and a documentary, El caso Rocío (José Luis Tirado, 2013), about the making of Rocío and its subsequent legal troubles. And then I watched it. In fact, I think I've watched Rocío half a dozen times now, but I can't really explain why it has drawn me in as it has.
    I set myself challenges on here, or start projects, in an attempt to give myself a structure to write within. I'm someone who thinks through writing (anyone who has spoken to me immediately after a film viewing will know that I'm rarely coherent in my thoughts at that stage), but it's not often that I write due to a sense of compulsion - Rocío is, however, one of those instances. I wrote because the film was stuck in my head, because I couldn't find anything written about it in English (beyond a New York Times story about the trial), because in the emphasis placed on the censorship of the film people seem to have avoided writing about it as a film (which is a shame because it is an incredibly rich, and visually distinctive, piece of filmmaking), and because it tapped into the sheer enjoyment I get from properly delving into an unfamiliar film and working out how it 'functions'. I decided to focus on the two aspects that pulled me down the rabbit hole - the story of the injustice suffered by Fernando Ruiz Vergara and Rocío, and the visual components of the film itself.
    What I've written is over at Mediático.

Note: the censored version of the film is available on YouTube with English subtitles.

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