“We can’t change the past… at least let’s remember it.” The phrase, between pompous and simply resigned, is heard in the music box, the Costa-Gavras film that confronted a daughter with the uncomfortable, wild and very unnerving possibility that her beloved father was indeed a murderer. But not one of those dragged by some dark and very low instincts that even mythically point to the victimizer. No, her father was perhaps in the past an official of the Nazi regime who killed by trade in the strict margin of the working day. The nights of Tefía, the six-episode series created by the playwright (as well as stage director, filmmaker, screenwriter and extremely restless guy) Miguel del Arco, moves in the same register and, in his own way, makes the phrase at the beginning his own, but with vehemence rather than just resignation. Suddenly, in the normality of a satisfied, slightly boring and properly ordered life, a man discovers that the past not only passes but also weighs. That neighbor, who is also an adorable father and endearing grandfather, was also a repressor, his repressor. The novelty is that now it is not about an American judicial drama about a strange barbarity, but that everything happens here, and very here, in Fuerteventura, in Spain, in our present, which is also our past.
“I have the impression that the greatest astonishment about the events that the series recounts has to do with the absolute ignorance of what is narrated,” says Del Arco. He remembers that even when they went there, to the place where everything happens, nobody knew anything. “After asking a lot, I found a man who had worked with his father at the facility. When I tracked him down and spoke to him, he kept asking me to keep my voice down. Even today », he adds. And he concludes: «Francoism not only annulled all kinds of political and sexual dissent, but also forced us to internalize the repression with a law of silence that we still suffer in the present. And the most painful thing is that on that silence, whether we want to recognize it or not, our democracy is built.
But wait, what are we talking about? We are talking about a television series that opens in theaters on Thursday the 22nd before reaching Atresplayer Premium, but above all one of the two hundred concentration camps during the Franco dictatorship. More specifically, we are talking about probably the most unique of all of them. For cruel. The Tefía Penitentiary Agricultural Colony, Fuerteventura, It was called that way because of the lack of modesty, it was active between 1954 and 1966 and served for “the re-education of male homosexuals” by design of the so-called Law of lazy people and thugs. The series, distantly inspired by Miguel Ángel Sosa Machín’s novel Journey to the Center of Infamy, imagines from the present the encounter of a victim with her repressor (characters played by Jorge Perugorria and Roberto Alamo) and travels to the past to reconstruct what that was at the hands of the actors Marcos Ruiz, Patrick Segui, Miquel Hernández or Raúl Prieto. But there is one more loop in time, in imagination and in memory: Del Arco makes the prisoners dream of the possibility of a dignified life with music, with glamor and without pain in a fictitious space, the Tindaya music hall, where you dance, you sing, you fuck, you live. It’s an imaginary trick for survival, but it’s also for freedom. “A sense of humor,” reflects the filmmaker, “is not just used to alleviate suffering, it is part of the survival mechanism.”
The series is located right in the middle, on the border of almost everything, between reality and fiction, between stage and cinema, between the wildest part of the autarkic dictatorship and the moment in which tourism forced us to look towards outside, between the most obvious tragedy and the most necessary comedy, between the past and the present. And there, in that almost nameless place, he founds a world. “What strikes me is that Franco is still a complicated place today.” Pause. «I think of that series that Sorogoyen, the most respected director right now, has been canceled, because he wanted to tell the Civil War». Pause. «I think of that obsession with reproaching Spanish cinema that only deals with precisely the Civil War and that there is not a single film about the concentration camps. Yes, without a doubt, I believe in the responsibility of those who tell stories ». Pause. «I think of the film Argentina, 1985 where the dignity of a people that says: “Yes, we were tortured, murdered, but we put the repressors on the bench.” We are a society, the Spanish society, where neither the dictatorship as such nor that there was even a coup d’état is fully recognized». Pause. «I think of my 14 and a half-year-old German niece that when she saw the series she could not believe it, she did not understand that this had happened and that she did not know anything. She, who lives in Germany, and where the memory of the Holocaust is part of the primary school. Thinking.
Del Arco reflects that perhaps the series will arrive at a time that is purely opportune… “neither bet”. He says it because of the Democratic Memory Law, which is under threat of repeal, and, for that matter, because of everything else. And here, the imminent day of Pride. “We have to go out to demonstrate, but aware of where we come from”, comment. Tefía’s nights it is series and it is memory. “We can’t change the past… at least let’s remember it.”