TIFF Cinematheque

General Report on Certain Matters of Interest For a Public Screening

Pere Portabella

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The great filmmaker Pere Portabella’s monumental 1976 documentary recounts the dawn of democracy in Spain following the death of dictator Francisco Franco.

One of the most important figures in the history of Spanish cinema, Pere Portabella is equally well known in his home country as a politician: he was elected to the Senate in Spain's first democratic elections in 1977, and took part in the drafting of the Spanish constitution. He began his film career as a producer for such films as Carlos Saura's Los Golfos, Marco Ferreri's El Cochecito and, most (in)famously, Luis Buñuel's controversial Viridiana, which drew the ire of both the Franco regime and the Catholic Church. In his own films as a director, he shuttled easily back and forth between formal experimentations like Cuadecuc-vampir — an avant-garde masterpiece constructed from on-set footage of a cheap, Spanish-shot Dracula movie starring Christopher Lee — and politically engaged works such as El sopar, a cinematic dialogue among five former political prisoners. In all of Portabella's distinguished career, no work synthesizes his interests more perfectly than his monumental essay film General Report on Certain Matters of Interest for a Public Screening.

Shot in the months following the death of Franco — and, consequently, the death of the oppressive regime that had ruled the country for almost 40 years — General Report combines clandestinely filmed footage of public protests with extensive conversations between politicians as they try to determine how to transition from a dictatorship to a democracy. Placing as much value on form as it does on content, General Report is a vital document of one of the turning points of 20th-century European political history, an event whose repercussions continue to be felt to this day. As we present Portabella's belated sequel, General Report II. The New Abduction of Europe, at this year's Festival, we are proud to bring this milestone of political filmmaking back to the screen.

BRAD DEANE

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