‘The Year of the Discovery’ Review: Remembering Tumult in Spain
Although it encompasses three hours and 20 minutes of focused socio-political discussion, “The Year of Discovery,” an experimental film with documentary traps, establishes its central idea in opening title cards side-by-side.
They set up a contrast to Spain in 1992, when the country hosted the Barcelona Olympics and Expo ’92 in Seville, projecting the image of a modern post-Franco nation. But that same year, workers in Cartagena, a city in the Murcia region, protested against a threat to industrial jobs. The protests, the text says, led to an uprising against the police and resulted in the bombing which set the regional parliament on fire.
“The Year of the Discovery”, directed by Luis López Carrasco, recast 1992 from the point of view of Cartagena instead of Barcelona or Seville. But what the movie says, and how, is complicated. It takes place mainly on a split screen, as interviewees on a rotating basis discuss working conditions, European economic integration and the legacy of Francoism. López Carrasco runs on camcorder quality video, blurring the line between newer and vintage material.
It shows a 1992 TV show in one frame, then continues its audio on two screens of what appears to be a cook and her family eating. The build suggests they are hearing real-time information about the Maastricht Treaty, which formalized the European Union. But subsequently, discordant references to Facebook and an already existing euro indicate that the film was shot closer to the present. (López Carrasco filmed at a closed cafe in Cartagena and selected the participants through a process he called “casting”.)
If the convoluted story and the corresponding formal vanities are hard to absorb, that’s part of the problem.
The year of discovery
Unclassified. In Spanish, with subtitles. Duration: 3 hours 20 minutes. In theaters.
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