The life of Dalí’s sister, revealed on screen
The film ‘Miss Dalí’ explores the world of Anna Dalí, directed by award-winning Catalan filmmaker Ventura Pons
The life of renowned Catalan surrealist Salvador Dalí has been pored over by enthusiasts and academics alike. The focus is often on the eccentric, so that what seems like the mundane often fades into obscurity. But these details can help us learn more still: for example, the perspective of Dalí’s sister, Anna, immortalized in a new film.
Directed by renowned Catalan director Ventura Pons, the film ‘Miss Dalí’ premiers this Friday, focusing on the life and world of Anna Maria Dalí. The artist and his youngest sister were close despite a four year difference, and Anna acted as a model and muse for the surrealist painter. But this relationship would eventually take a turn for the worst, ending with the two not speaking to each other.
"In the end, this is a hidden story, and hidden stories are the most interesting"
Ventura Pons · director of 'Miss Dalí'
A “Greek tragedy” of “betrayal”
Pons describes this rupture as “betrayal” and “Greek tragedy,” one of “two siblings who loved each other and did not talk due to many things, but especially because of the constant change in Dalí’s attitude, and the opportunism in his social and political actions.” The director explained that “Dalí betrayed everyone. First, he betrayed his family (…) and then, Picasso, Buñuel, and Lorca too.” Pons admitted that Dalí “was a genius, but he was very ‘Dalí.’ He invented lots of fun things, which had, though, collateral effects.”
Important characters that also make an appearance in the movie include Spanish poet and friend of the two siblings Federico García Lorca, Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel and the Russian woman who would later become Dalí’s muse and wife, Gala. Indeed, according to Pons, the production touches on “the Republican movement of the ‘30s, the triangle with Lorca, the story with Buñuel and Gala.”
Hidden stories are the most interesting
However, the director clarified that the movie isn’t about Salvador: it’s about Anna. Pons described the woman’s story as one that is “hidden,” adding that “hidden stories are the most interesting.” He also noted that the younger sister carried “her own, very interesting, world inside herself.”
What’s more, Pons explained that within the plot, “there’s nothing that isn’t true,” although he recognized that there are two invented characters. The film lasts almost three hours, and the filmmaker also observed how hard it was to fit a lifetime of information into that time.
A writer and a survivor
Anna Dalì’s life was not an easy one. While her brother was spared the worst of the Spanish Civil War conflict, in France, Anna was arrested, accused of espionage, and tortured, kept captive for over two weeks. The younger Dalí sibling was also a writer (although she allegedly never considered herself as such) and used literature to combat the trauma she had lived through during the war, publishing several books, some even on her brother.
A celebrated director and an international cast
Ventura Pons has a long history of filmmaking and has recently even received recognition abroad. He was awarded the Mayahuel prize, honoring his career, at Latin America’s top celebration of film, the 2018 Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG). Indeed, ‘Miss Dalí’ was screened at the event. Born in Barcelona 72 years ago, Pons is known for movies such as ‘Anita Takes a Chance,’ ‘To Die (Or Not),’ and ‘What's It All About.’ His works have been selected by international film festivals, such as those of Cannes and the Berlinale.
Pons said he was “very happy with the actors,” a cast which included professionals from Catalonia, the UK, France and Andalucía. Some of the actors who appear in the film are Siân Philips, Josep Maria Pou, Claire Bloom, Vicky Peña, Joan Carreras, Joan Pera, Eulàlia Ballart, Jose Carmona, Allan Corduner, and Minnie Marx.