Starring: Carles Puigdemont, Inés Arrimadas, Miquel Iceta
Director: Álvaro Longoria, Gerardo Olivares
Running Time: 116 mins
Two Catalonias (Dos Cataluñas) is a Spanish documentary about the events surrounding the Catalan elections of December 2017, and the intense ideological debate surrounding the modern Catalan independence movement.
The story of the Catalan separatist movement is an absolutely fascinating one, and has been a feature of the political scene in Spain for a very long time. Its most recent chapter, that is the referendum of October 2017 and the resulting constitutional crisis, is yet another riveting piece of history, something that this documentary brings to light with its wealth of detail, interviews, footage and more, even if it doesn’t quite manage to stitch it all together into one fully coherent analysis of the political situation.
Let’s start on the bright side, though, with the fact that this film has so much to talk about. As I said, the story of Catalonia in Spain is one with an immense history, and although I would have liked to see a little more historical background here than is the case, the movie still goes into great depth in its portrayal of the events of late 2017, with a wide-ranging and impressively balanced perspective on a fascinating and tumultuous part of Spain’s history.
In that, if you’re someone who knows absolutely nothing about Catalonia or its separatist movement, this film may be a bit of a dive in the deep end at times, but if you’ve got a strong interest in the situation, or politics in general, then there is a lot to learn from in this film, both in terms of historical facts, but also analysis and dissecting of the modern day political climate.
Of course, the issue of Catalan independence and Spanish unionism can be a very touchy one, and similar to other passionate current political topics, it’s very important to come at the situation with as balanced a perspective as possible, in part so as not to upset those with partisan views, but also so as to give as level-headed and objective a portrayal of what can be a very emotional subject.
I’m glad to say that this film does give a very balanced perspective, and does well to hear from all the players in the situation, with impressive interviews with the likes of Carles Puigdemont himself, as well as major officials from the Spanish government, and important figures on both sides of the separatist debate in Catalonia itself.
However, the film’s balance, while admirable and praiseworthy, is where one of its major problems comes in, and that’s the fact that it isn’t the tidiest presentation of the subject at hand. In trying to be balanced, the movie switches back and forth between interviewees with opposite opinions and perspectives at an incredibly rapid pace, which although effective at giving you an overview of both sides’ views, can prove a little confusing when you’re just looking for some plain facts to better understand what really happened over the course of the last few months of 2017.
And therein lies another major issue with the movie: its wildly out-of-control chronology. Of course, history doesn’t have to be told in chronological order by any means, and given that this film’s focus is more about the debate rather than the events, it’s somewhat more fitting, however the movie isn’t clear enough when it’s switching back and forth in time.
As a result, it’s very easy to get confused about what event is being focused on at a certain point of the movie, as it moves thematically through the discussion, flipping wildly between the days, months and years before the crisis unfolded, to a couple of days before the December elections at the end of the story here.
Overall, I was fascinated by Two Catalonias, and impressed with the film’s level-headed and balanced approach to a touchy and emotional subject, but it doesn’t quite pull everything off perfectly, getting a little too muddled with its wobbly chronology and rapid changes between opposing sides’ views, which is why I’m giving it a 7.2.