“Two Catalonias” Explains Spain’s Nationality Issue

Fiorella Beccaglia   A&E Editor

“Two Catalonias,” or “Dos Cataluñas” in Spanish, is a Netflix original documentary released on Sep. 28, 2018, about the Catalan independence movement in Spain. If you do not know much about Catalonia, it is an autonomous community in the northeastern corner of Spain, who’s capital and largest city is Barcelona. For quite a long time now and due to complex reasons, Catalonia has wanted to become independent and attempted to do so on Oct. 1, 2017.  Catalan leaders defied the Spanish government by convening a referendum which sprouted rage and fear all over the country. In response, the central government resorted to violence and injured dozens of people. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy then dismissed the Catalan parliament, led by former President Carles Puigdemont, and called for a new regional election, held on Dec. 21, 2017, in attempts of replacing the secessionist parliament.

“Two Catalonias,” is structured around 85 interviews with crucial figures in the Catalan political scene, those for independence, against independence, and in between. These include the former President, Carles Puigdemont, Cuitadants Party leader Ines Arrimadas (which is a Catalan unionist party), former foreign minister Raul Romeva, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, and more.Its focal point is a period when tensions between Catalonia and Spain were extremely high. Just over two months on from the independence referendum, Catalans took to the ballots on Dec. 1 to vote once more. Pro-independence forces won an overall majority in the parliament, whilst unionist Ciutadants was the individual party that gained the most seats.

According to co-director Gerardo Olivares, the aim of the film is to show what is happening in Catalonia, not just to the Spaniard population, but to the world; to those in “Sydney, Mongolia, and Patagonia,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. The film is a response to the simplification and manipulation of information regarding the events of the independence referendum.

Another interesting factor of the film is that neither director is from Catalonia. Gerardo Olivares was born in Cordoba and Alvaro Longoria in Santander. Although they were both born in Spain, they do not consider themselves Spanish. “We are not Spaniards, we have lived abroad a large part of our lives, and this has made our point of view when making the documentary more neutral,” Longoria emphasized, adding that due to their backgrounds, they have been able to analyze the issue without getting blinded by how strongly each side feels.

“Two Catalonias” ends with a powerful message: there is no absolute truth. As with all political conflicts, the solution is real diplomacy, dialogue, and finding a middle ground. In my opinion, the documentary truly shows how spectacularly unnecessary this whole mess is and how easily it could have been avoided. Spain must eliminate the grievances that exist and are real, and explain those that are not. They must generate a movement of empathy, of mutual complicity, to recreate bonds that have slowly been breaking for years, but that requires a lot of time and capability.

As a Spaniard, it hurts to see my country so polarized. The Spaniard nation-state is in trouble not only in Catalonia; separatist groups also exist in the Basque Country and Galicia, although not with the same popularity. This is because a nation-state is based on the creation of a specific, and often artificial, identity with arbitrary boundaries. Catalans do not conform with the notion of nation that most Spaniards unite under.
If you are interested in international politics or the the concept of the nation-state, I highly recommend this documentary. The directors did well in remaining neutral and showing both sides of the issue. The film goes beyond what the headlines said and helps one understand how and why Spain is in this difficult situation.

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