Barcelona remembers the 1931 declaration of the Catalan Republic

In commemoration of the declaration of the Catalan Republic, 500 voluntary actors dress-up in 1930's style to participate in the film production, '14 April. Macià against Companys', a review of the declaration of the Catalan Republic, which lasted only a few days.

Júlia Pérez / ACN

January 31, 2011 10:10 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona has travelled 80 years back in time to the 14th April 1931 when Catalan politicians Francesc Macià and Lluís Companys declared within very short periods of time the creation of the Catalan Republic. In order to commemorate this important time for Catalonia, this week up to 500 voluntary actors dressed-up in 1930's attire to participate in the film '14 April. Macià against Companys', directed by Manuel Huerga and produced by the historian, journalist and comedian Toni Soler.

Passing through the centric square, Plaça Sant Jaume of Barcelona last Sunday was like going back 80 years in time. The film set of the movie, '14 April. Macià against Companys' made passersby feel like they were actually part of the proclamation of the Catalan Republic in 1931. 'We asked people if they wanted to declare the Republic again, that's all', the producer of the film Toni Soler told CNA.Among the voluntary actors, there was a mixture of old and young, but they all had one thing in common- they were all dressed from head to toe in typical cloths from the 30's.

The movie accounts events in Barcelona from the 14th of April to the 17th 1931. It examines local elections on April 12th when republican parties had a clear victory and forced the Spanish king to abdicate. Two days later, the Catalan Republic was proclaimed in Barcelona, and the Spanish Republic was created too from Madrid. However, the Catalan regime only lasted four days.

In the end, Catalonia did not consolidate itself as an independent republican country confederated with the rest of the regions of the Iberian Peninsula, as Macià firstly aimed. Due to the concerns of Spanish politicians, Macià accepted on April 17th the restauration of the current Generalitat de Catalunya, an autonomous form of government with medieval links which meant, however, a renouncement of independence. The Spanish Republic went on with long-waited reforms until the Nazi Germany-backed Franco's coup d'etat and the following Civil War ended the Republic in 1939 and established a fascist dictatorship until 1975.

The producer of the film Toni Soler explains that the voluntary actors were attracted to the idea of experiencing what their grandfathers or great-grandfathers actually lived. 'We have been helped by many people that have come here dressed up in period costumes trying to remember what their grandfathers probably explained to them', he said.

The extras carefully selected their outfits for the occasion. Even if many of them will be only be on screen for a few seconds, they searched their family's wardrobes carefully for the right outfit. Some of them, such as Carles, who came with his four-year old daughter Ivet, explains how they asked older members of the family for advice. 'Last night we did like a fashion show at home in front of granddad and grandma, and they told us what was suitable and what wasn't'.

Many of the participants found out about the filming on Facebook. New technologies were also useful for voluntary actors to get inspiration about the kind of cloths they had to wear. Petra tells CNA how he consulted Google to find out how people dressed in the Catalan thirties and then looked for similar outfits in her grandmother's wardrobe. Another actor Isidre arrived on set dressed up as a reporter. He even brought a one-hundred years old photo camera. 'It still works!', he said, cheerfully, from the square.

The producer of the film hopes to see the production broadcast on Catalan television precisely on the 14th of April of this year, exactly 80 years after the declaration of the Catalan Republic.