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Pájaros de papel (Paper Birds)

Directed by Emilio Aragón

Spain, 2010

Cornerhouse, 3 March 2012

Paper Birds

We follow a troupe of vaudevillian entertainers during or perhaps just at the close of the Spanish Civil War.

Their tour takes them to many towns and villages, the length and breadth of the land.  And although they attempt to escape from politics and violence – as entertainer-in-chief Jorge (Imanol Arias) says, the theatre is meant to be a hallowed and holy place, a sanctuary, not unlike a church – it is, of course, impossible.

There’s a Valkyrie-style plot to assassinate Franco, that’s what gives the film its global narrative, but it is the smaller, more human stories that give the film its emotional power.  You can expect heroism and humour, romance and redemption, moral uncertainty and sorrow.

Among the many terrific performances, I’ll pick out two.  Lluís Homaras plays a comedian and a gay man who barely escapes Lorca’s fate.  While Carmen Machi (pictured in the still above) is a delightful diva.  Man, does she put the flame in flamenco.

It’s a very moving film in the end, with no cheap effects and every emotion earned.

Pájaros de papel was shown as part of Viva, the Spanish and Latin American Film Festival.