Think of Angel Sala. Before we dust off old arguments and rev up our chainsaws, spare a moment’s consideration—take two, even—for the beleaguered director of the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya, better known internationally as the Sitges Film Festival. For anyone who might assume what follows is safely academic, Sala is a man who could spend the next year in prison.
Now think of Spain, which wears some scars publicly, some privately, and forgets none of them. The context is interesting, because the comfortable notion of shared cultural norms in the West does not apply; the nation has not forgotten Franco, or what he wrought, or what is, in the grand scheme of things, truly offensive. Nearly 40 years of fascism’s thuggish, paranoid narcissism, cinematically accompanied by a state subsidized stream of gaudy costume dramas and pseudo-religious pablum, engendered an almost psychological resistance to film censorship in much of the Spanish national character. Understand: the country of Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodóvar does not take such matters lightly….
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