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Javier Rioyo recounts the history of the Valley of the Fallen, “Franco’s mistress”, in ‘Angels with Sword’

On the left, Javier Rioyo, director of Angels with Sword, next to producer Silvia Martínez; on the right, the editor Pablo Blanco and Yolanda Pérez, documentary filmmaker
  • The filmmaker says that the monumental ensemble commissioned by dictator Francisco Franco is an interesting place for us to learn about “our history”

10/29/2020.- Angels with Sword, a feature-length documentary screened at the Time of History section this Thursday, portrays the reality of the Valley of the Fallen, since its construction until Francisco Franco’s exhumation later on. The film’s director, Javier Rioyo, who is the assistant director of Cinemanía and a columnist with El País, refers to the Valley as “Franco’s mistress”.

The director wanted to show in the film the construction process, during which the dictator “enslaved hundreds of political prisoners”. However, Rioyo also pointed out “it is a very interesting place for us to learn about our history”. “I don’t think we should blow it up”, he added.

Rioyo reminded the audience at the screening that the shooting was their “very own virus”. While they were filming, there was a debate going on in Spain as to whether or not Franco should be exhumed. “We started years ago”, when “we didn’t know what was going to become of the Valley, and that made filming tricky for us”.

This feature film was produced by Hernán Zin and Silvia Martínez, also present at the Cervantes Theater. Zin wanted to thank RTVE (Spanish Radio and Television Corporation) for co-producing the documentary, and also had a few words for the director: “I have admired Javier for quite a few years now”, and his gaze “has such a long trajectory and so much legitimacy”.

Martínez, for her part, said: “I believe there is no better place than Seminci to premiere the documentary”. Besides, Rioyo recalled “coming here often as a movie fan”.

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