Urrusti Alonso begins his family documentary sharing that he feels like a stranger in Mexico, as a first-generation child. You too might think that with the same language and religion, assimilation from Spain to Mexico should be assured. IN EXILE: A FAMILY FILM takes us on the very personal journey of this filmmaker to find his roots.
The director, Juan Francisco Urrusti Alonso, traces the history of his families, Urrusti and Alonso, both emigrants from Spain after the Spanish Civil War ending in 1939. Combining period footage of pre-war Spain, family photos, newsreels from the war, and interviews with his surviving family members, Urrusti Alonso crafts a family memoir with a surprise. He begins by tracing the military coup against the legitimately elected republican government in 1936. His families were staunch republicans. The Alonso men were educated telegraph operators who flourished pre-war. During the war, their communication skills were in high demand. The Urrustis were munitions experts—engineers who designed arms before the war and spent the war repairing canons and guns on the front lines. Members of both families survived, but knew there would be no place for them in Franco’s Spain. They were separately able to secure transport out of Spain on the same ship, bound for Mexico. With 1600 survivors, they crossed to Vera Cruz and a new life.
OVID.tv Inclusion of IN EXILE is a Good Match for Those Interested In Finding Their Roots
It was only later, as they settled in Mexico City, that family members met and discovered they were voyagers on the same ship. They never knew each other until settled in Mexico. They also had in common a shared happiness at being in Mexico, which the filmmaker perhaps only comes to realize as he interviews them for this film. In interviews with his parents and grandparents, he learned firsthand how their inability to live in Franco’s Spain was relieved by the genuine acceptance they felt in Mexico.
This film will have particular appeal to anyone interested in the subject of immigration, providing a window on the immigration stories of our southern neighbor.
Reviewer Ann Boland is committed to Chicago theater. Involved in the audience since the early 80’s, she’s witnessed firsthand the rise of our theater scene, our exceptional local talent, and the vigor of each new generation. Ann handles public relations for authors and works on programs to help seniors with neurological movement disorders. Please visit her website for more information.
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