Ricard López 02.15.2020
Has the pro-independence process affected the affective relations of the Catalans? Have you generated difficulties in the family, friends or work environment? These are two of the questions posed by the documentary Ferida oberta. Cercant l’empatia (Open wound. Seeking empathy), which will hit theaters in mid-March. Based on interviews with 29 people from different fields and ideologies, this almost two-hour film aims to reflect the extent to which the nationalist drift experienced in Catalonia since the convulsive autumn of 2017 has influenced their lives. The answer, in both cases, is affirmative. And, according to what has been seen, fixing it will not be an easy task.
This is explained by the filmmaker Jesús Ángel Prieto, co-director of the documentary with the psychologist Rosa Botella, to Crónica Global. The idea of recording it came about when they both realized how some relationships between friends and even WhatsApp groups were strained when this issue was discussed. “From there, relying on friends and friends of friends, peers, looking for people from everywhere – also politicians and academics – we started working”, he recalls.
“The suffering of others was strange for them”
And one of the things that they could verify during the filming – finished shortly before the judgment of the trial of the procés – is, in broad strokes, the existence of three large groups clearly distinguishable. On the one hand, the lifelong pro-independence people, “who saw the opportunity to make history with all their good will. People who believed that with independence we would have a great country, who lived through it with joy, enthusiasm and generosity, thinking that everything would improve. But who, at the same time, when they are told that others suffer because they don’t see it that way, are puzzled. And they ignore, not having the evidence quite close, those who live it in another way”.
The second group, very broad and heterogeneous, is made up of not pro-independence groups, and includes “from Spanishists to anarchists, through social democrats and communists” who feel how “the rupture of a state they believe is improvable in many cases, and who suddenly were excluded. Or, as one of the testimonies says: exiled in my homeland, because they don’t count on me, I suddenly disappeared. Or another who says he used to go to the Diadas of 11 September, but since they became a pro-independence rally, he felt attacked, because they took away his political space”.
And, thirdly, there are the converted. People who “are having a hard time”, among other reasons because they have put all their faith in the cause and do not admit that their new yearning is not fulfilled. With the added phenomenon, where appropriate, that “when you start to doubt, returning to the very same place that has been denied causes a horrible discomfort”.
Feelings of abandonment and non-existence
Three large groups that, each in their own way, have suffered and suffer because of the procés. In the case of non-independence people, especially because of the feelings of abandonment and of not existing for the current leaders of the Generalitat: “There are testimonies complaining that they feel excluded in their country, that their president does not think about them. Some say that the government is not governing for the poor people, who see themselves far from any possibility of being treated well, because the priorities lie elsewhere.”
The directors of the documentary were able to verify this helplessness even in the preview of the film on January 31 at the Maldà Cinema in Barcelona: “Many of the spectators told us that they were coming because they needed comfort, to see that there are more people who have felt excluded”. Although, on the other hand, from the pro-independence side there are many who deny this reality. “People who say that nothing happens, that all is exaggerated, that this only builds a wound that did not exist before. Even our friends ask us why we enter in this garden”.
Pain for 1-O and imprisoned politicians
In its 114 minutes, the documentary reflects all the positions: from the pro-independence people who feel hurt by the “beatings” of the police charges carried out in some polling stations during the illegal referendum of October 1, 2017, to those who are not and feel intimidated, for example, by the omnipresence of secessionist symbols and support for political prisoners in public space. Also the anguish of those who feel trapped “by the extremes of both sides”, and who wonder “how have we got here”. Or the complaints of non-nationalists because they are called “anti-Democrats, Francoists or Falangists”. And also the tears of those who suffer from the imprisonment of the leaders who promoted the procés and the unilateral declaration of independence of 27-O.
Insomnia and health problems
Traumas about which Dr. Isabel Giralt also speaks in the film, as well as other testimonies that “already out of cameras, explained more things that they had not said”. Evidence of cases of insomnia, tachycardia, health problems, or even at work for all the anguish experienced…
A suffering from which the independence sympathizers have not been deprived either by way of the cases of violence in several voting centers on 1-O, first, or of the imprisonment of the promoters of the procés, later. In the latter case, Prieto points out, there is an affective component that exerts “as an extension of the cause when independence does not materialize”. For them, “political prisoners are untouchable, they are our prisoners. They feel them as something of their own, as if they were first-degree relatives. It is a very sensitive issue”.
Two worlds, and two visions, separated by the same cause. Something that makes it even harder for that wound to heal: “As another person in the documentary says, there is a cognitive dissonance. And that makes you see, many times when you hear, when you speak, or when you ask, that the mental framework is different. Some speak of the repression of the State, of the blows of 1-0 … and others of exclusion and a certain fear of being left without a country. Several even thought of emigrating, of leaving Catalonia”, Prieto explains.
And who is responsible for the break-up? “As authors of the documentary we do not reach thus far, although we have our opinion. There has been a kind of social wave. There have been political and interest groups that have seen that this was an option, and that has been progressing clearly, especially ignoring the other side”, he values. In this sense, Prieto recalls the little impact that had the statements of Andreu Mas-Colell, former counsellor of Economy during the term of Artur Mas, when he pointed out that independence is not economically viable. Or the absence of an open debate on the referendum, “not even in TV3”, where, in his opinion, “the opinions of non-independence followers appear in isolation, in front of a majority of pro-independence people” and generally seeking “antagonistic positions”.
Search for empathy
For all these reasons, Prieto appeals to the “search for empathy” that Ferida Oberta’s subtitle speaks of: “Social pragmatism is needed, the seny (“ good sense ”) of this country, as another testimony says”. And remember how, throughout its history, Catalonia has also experienced other moments of rauxa (“fury”) that it then overcame. “The so-called Quebec syndrome can occur. In this Canadian region there have been several referendums. And they want to be Quebecois, but not independent. Surely that will also happen here. The irredentist pro-independence followers do not feel Spanish, but they cannot leave Spain either. And in the polls you can see how a majority sector feels itself just as Catalan as Spanish. But then the pro-independence parties win, those who with the 1-O have slapped against a door painted on the wall”, he values.
Recognize the wound
The filmmaker, in spite of everything, does not lose hope, and especially values another testimony stating “that we need serene debates. That the wound closes if it is recognized that we have it. And you have to live with her”.
His desire, as is obvious, is that the documentary serves to bring positions closer, that both parties understand and contribute to reconciliation: “We want to take it throughout Catalonia. The people who see it look for that empathy, and put themselves in the place of the other. The affective depends on each one of us”, he concludes.