The film 'Protestants: the silenced history' tells how evangelicals were persecuted during the post-civil war years in the Barcelona area.
The documentary 'Protestants: la història silenciada' (Protestants, the silenced story), has been released this week in Spain, within the “Spiritual cinema exhibition” of Catalonia.
The film tells the story of the Franco regime's persecution of Protestants and explains how that repression prevented Spain from joining the Marshall Plan promoted by the United States.
The idea for the documentary, which took three years of work, came from its director, Catalan journalist David Casals, after the death of his grandmother, Rosa Mora, who was Protestant and died at the age of 89 in March 2018.
Casals recalled how her grandmother many times told him that she had to participate in clandestine worship services because she was a Protestant, and he decided that testimonies like that could not be left untold “without making them known to the general public”.
“The persecution of all Protestants by Franco's regime is something that is known internally among the families that suffered it, but it is a very unknown episode for the general audience, and that is why we have filmed the documentary”, explains Casals.
Shot through an “informative-journalistic prism”, the film sheds light on the little-known episode of Spain's exclusion from the post-war reconstruction of Europe, promoted by US President Eisenhower,.
The 52-minute film tells how, after US Senator Alvin O'Konsky succeeded in getting the House of Representatives to approve Spain's inclusion in the Marshall Plan on 30 March 1948, Eisenhower, a Baptist, vetoed Franco's regime because of its persecution of Protestants.
Evangelicals who experienced those difficult times first-hand took part in the documentary, such as the former director of the Evangelical Hospital Armand Urrútia, a member of the Assembly of Brethren in Terol Street church in Barcelona, who explains how they still have “photos of the church door with a seal that read 'Court of Law', so you couldn't enter”.
[photo_footer] Daniel Giralt-Miracle and Josep Lluis Carod-Rovira, at one of the previews of the documentary.[/photo_footer]
“We used to meet in the houses. And we were careful not to have a neighbour denounce us for clandestine meetings. I remember, when I was a child, that the police turned up in the middle of the meeting and took data of all the attendees, who were later fined”, points out Urrútia.
Historian and art critic Daniel Giralt-Miracle, a member of the Baptist church on Verdi street in Barcelona, recalls that they “entered discreetly, separately, we didn't sing, there was a spirit of a clandestine cell, of resistance. It was a very hard period because of the confusion that National Catholicism made of everything that was Protestant”.
Another episode of repression documented in the film is the case of the pastor of the Methodist Church, Enric Capó, who in 1973 was prosecuted by the Public Order Court for handing out evangelical leaflets at the Spanish premiere of the film The Ten Commandments.
The documentary gives voice to 12 evangelical testimonies and six specialists who analyse the historical, political and religious context, among them the former Catalan regional vice-president Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira.
The documentary is scheduled to be shown in several churches in Catalonia over the next few days, and its television premiere is expected on regional television channel 33 at the beginning of next year, at a date yet to be set.