La Tierra de la Madre

Marcelo Expósito | Jose Antonio Hergueta

There is an extract in La Tierra de la Madre [The mother's land] of a British film news clip showing the seemingly "very compassionate" treatment that the case of the children exiled after the Spanish Civil war received. For this piece, Joseantonio Hergueta and Marcelo Expósito turn their attention to the dozens of thousands of children living on Republican land who had to be evacuated abroad in 1937 due to the advance of the coup forces. La tierra de la madre focuses particularly on what was to become a phantasm of the Spanish collective imaginary during Franco's dictatorship: "Russia's children". These were children who were sent to Soviet camps and schools and who ended up integrating in the civil life of that country.

One of the aims of the film is to counteract the media behaviour which, under the guise of compassion, hides the spectacularization of tragedy and the utter disregard for the origins of the conflict – how would otherwise the outbreak of war have been possible? The story of the video's main character, Conchita Eguidazu, together with archive footage documenting these children's experience (film footage, emigration files, etc.), forge the testimony of their forced exodus. In addition, the postcards and letters that the children sent to their families, who stayed behind in many cases at the hands of the harsh Francoist repression, bear witness to the courage (and innocence) with which they confronted the necessity to survive in a foreign country: "Long live Russia! Long live a free Spain!", words that we can read in one of these correspondences.

Full of disturbing fragments such as the scene showing the destruction of Guernica and its confused inhabitants lost, disoriented, wondering among the debris and smoke (footage from Nemesio Sobrevila's film Guernika of 1937), this video closes the historic circle with the allusion (at the end of the protagonist's narration, as well as in the television archive images) to the collapse of the Eastern European socialist régimes, and the image of the massive exile of young Albanians to Italy.

In this work, war is neither nostalgic for the past, nor, of course, a photogenic accident with which to decorate our present good conscience. War, this war, our war, accompanies us. It is made present in this video.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: La Tierra de la Madre
  • Direction: Marcelo Expósito - Jose Antonio Hergueta
  • Production: Europe Premieres Images, GREC, Canal + Francia, Eurocreation Production Frances Libertes, Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía, Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kusten (Amsterdam). 1993.
  • Duration: 00:21:03
  • Languages: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Original format: Betacam SP
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyleft