74 cinemas across Catalonia with a total of 528 screens are closing their doors today in protest against the new Film Act promoted by the Generalitat. The protest notes that the Department of Culture directed by Joan Manuel Tresserras has failed miserably in its talks with the Gremio de Empresarios de Cine de Cataluña. Just 24 hours earlier, some cinemas in Barcelona woke up yesterday with graffiti and stickers criticising the cinemas. Por example, Renoir Les Corts, located in the district of Les Corts in Barcelona had daubbed ‘This cinema marginalises the Catalan language’ and put several stickers on the film posters asking for films to be shown in Catalan.
The same stickers also appeared in the Cinesa Diagonal and Gran Sarrià. The owner of the Renoir cinema, Enrique Gonzalez Macho, had publicly expressed his thoughts against the bill: “The linguistic standardisation shouldn’t be at the expense of the film industry”, he said. For Mr Gonzalez Macho this legislation “will mean a very drastic reduction in production, distribution and screenings and will limit supply and reduce some of it to ghettos.
The screens tried a few weeks ago to show support for the Catalan language offering an alternative plan to the Government and only last December 12th, 52 of these screens projected films in Catalan for free. However, despite having scheduled two screenings – at four and six in the afternoon, with films agreed by the Generalitat, some of them blockbusters such as Planet 51, Millennium 2 or Lluvia de albóndigas – attendance was by no means massive and in some cases had a 0 percent occupancy.
One of the keys to understanding the poor turnout of the public on that day was for the films chosen by the Generalitat for the projections. For example, Catalan productions such as “Bullying” and “Eloise”, had between 0 and 13 people watching them in each screen.
Irony of fate? The strike coincides with the gala evening of the Catalan Film Academy organised for tonight – Premios Gaudí (Gaudi Awards). The academy, presided by actor Joel Joan, will hand out eleven awards to films that have received little public support such as “Xtrems” by Abel Folk and Joan Riedweg (1,300 spectators), “The Frost” by Ferrà Audí (13,000 spectators) and “Trash”, by Carlos Torres (20,000 spectators). This is the second time that the Catalan Film Academy hands out such awards. This year has also seen the refusal in their request to submit their own film to qualify for an Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Language film by the Academy Awards in Hollywood.
This is what you call linguistic mobbing of the highest order. The Generalitat’s Nazi style tactics are once again a complete joke. They want to force the cinemas to dub them in Catalan for the few that’ll sit and watch a film in this language. How pathetic is that. Instead of helping Catalonia, they are once again shooting itself in the foot. Coupled with their great idea to fine anyone up to 10,000 euros for not having their shop’s sign in Catalan just about puts the tin lid on a pathetic Generalitat who’s on a mission to wipe out small business in the region of Catalonia. Maybe in 5 years Spain along with the region of Catalonia might just climb out of the recession. You can’t win your people over by brute force and Nazi tactics. Isn’t that right, Tom?