The Anarchist Encyclopedia:
Armand Guerra, (born José Estivalis Calvo), (1886-1939).
Spanish filmmaker & anarchist.
Fought fascism with a camera.
Boyhood in a seminary turns him into an atheist. As a 20-year old anarchist in France Guerra helps found a film co-operative (two of his films were recently found: "The Old Docker" & "The Commune").
In the 20s, Guerra worked in Berlin, then the capital of European cinema, & for the studios of the U.F.A. until his expulsion in 1932. In Spain he did his first full-length film, during summer 1936, before going to the front to fight fascism with a camera.
The film "Carne de Fieras" was never released, & thought lost forever, until negative was discovered & released in 1993.
As a journalist, Guerra chronicled his own efforts, & the collected articles constitute an unique view on the Spanish conflict: Through the grapeshot. Exhausted, he dies in Paris today, after 20 days in exile.
Armand Guerra: Requiem for an Anarchistic Scenario Writer by Ezéquiel Fernandez & produced by Zangra productions is a recent video which touches on aspects of his life.
From the Daily Bleed,
- January 4, 1886. Armand Guerra (true name José Estivalis Calvo) lives (1886-1939), Valence, Spain. Writer & Spanish anarchist scenario writer, filmmaker, member of the young C.N.T. Fought fascism with a camera.
As a 20-year old anarchist in France Guerra helps found a film co-operative where he did several films (two have recently been found: "The Old Docker" & "The Commune" [1914; 13 min.]) Guerra was both a producer & actor in his films & used old Communards & anarchists in his films.
In the 20s, Guerra worked in Berlin, then the capital of European cinema, & for the studios of the U.F.A. in Babelsberg until his expulsion in 1932. In Spain, he did his first full-length film of fiction, Carne de fieras, during the summer of 1936, before heading to the front with his camera, capturing the heroic efforts of the Spanish revolutionists fighting Fascism. As a journalist, Guerra also chronicled his experiences in writing, & his collected articles constitute an unique view on the Spanish conflict: "A travers la mitraille" (1938) (Through the Grapeshot).
His life is recalled in the film, Armand Guerra: Requiem for an Anarchistic Scenario Writer by Ezéquiel Fernandez & produced by Zangra productions (available in video).
Rough unfinished translation notes: The tomb of Armand Guerra.
Armand Guerra: Requiem for an Anarchist Scenario Writer by Ezéquiel Fernandez & produced by Zangra productions:
... was presented in public at the video library of Bordeaux. This first film devoted to this exceptional scenario writer underwent many delays.
Unfortunately, end of century and " decline of the ideologies " oblige, the filmmaker chose to center his matter on Vicente Ricart, the girl of Armand Guerra, who "had lost sight of the fact " his father & found after 56 years at the time of the restoration of Carne de fieras.
Moving of course, the individual history occupies the foreground & the History is used as context as well as possible, of decoration in the worst case. The terms "anarchist" & "libertarian" are quoted with many recoveries but never clarified; the restorer of film deliberately uses the fuzzy concept of ideology of left to analyze Carne de fieras. Thus the audience has no chance to grasp what can make well the specificity of the step & the life of Armand Guerra.
More serious still, this not taken into account of the History prevents an in-depth comprehension of the conversion of the girl to the paternal ideal which would have made it possible to perceive in what way the anarchist ideas are still appealing & quite alive today.
At the time of the presentation to the public of Bordeaux, the conclusion of Vincente Ricart in Spanish dedicated to the alive or died combatants of anarchy was one strong moment of emotion.
The co-operative of the cinema of the people
The choice first of the filmmaker leads it to open his being told film on its " héroine ". The 52 minutes main part is devoted to Carne de fieras, the event which started at the same time the step of the girl and the production of documentary devoted to his/her father. Intersected with (too much) many extracts of film of 1936, an employee of the Spanish cineclub tells the discovery of negative, the restorer of film explains her work of assembly, the last witness living there goes from her anecdote, etc. Sequences of Carne de fieras turned in the public places of Madrid alternate with those where Vincente goes on the steps of his/her father in contemporary Madrid. When it finally decides to leave Madrid, it does not remain much any more of time to the realizer to treat the remainder of the life of Armand Guerra.
Obviously, it could not glaner of images in Berlin where the memory of the Spanish realizer seems to have been unobtrusive. But in Paris, the identification with the cineclub of two films carried out for the co-operative of the cinema of the people constitutes a true projection in historical knowledge. With crossed pedagogy révolutionaire (the co-operative is close to the Hive), to the cinema militant (former to the bolchevik revolution), to the labor movement, these films testify to strength, the inventiveness of the anarchists and especially of the coherence of their step (they are present on all fronts and do not neglect any tool).
The particularly relevant interventions of Tanguy Perron which restore the historical environment of the co-operative of the cinema of the people open a series of fertile prospects. Alas, the little of time devoted at this time of the history of the labour movement generates a strong frustration. There is only to see the plans who enclose the Commune to convince themselves of the historical importance of these films: the denriers communards are reproduced on the film and guarantee film and the political step which allowed it. There in 1914, at a few weeks hardly of the diving in the horror, these little old woman out of white beard had not disarmed...
Zangra held large and true subject. It seems well that the narcissistic choices of the realizer (3) carried it. **time-out** rather than a requiem, prayer for the death, it have, undoubtedly, be preferable to carry out the " Tomb of Armand ", with manner of that of Alexandre where Chris Marker compose its biographer of Medvekine in it bind with a luminous crossing of century. The life of Armand Guerra entirely devoted to the cinema and the combat for the emancipation of Humanity (the her death day before, it published an article exhortant his/her comrades not to lower the arms), by its uprightness and its exemplarity, awaits a work of this quality. *** TRANSLATION ENDS HERE ***
(1) Eglise-Neuve-d’Issac Fédérop, 1996 ; traduction Vincente Estivalis-Ricart. A travers la mitraille raconte les premiers mois de la guerre et de la révolution en Espagne. Le 18 juillet, Guerra se rend à la CNT dont il est membre afin de prendre ses ordres : il doit terminer son film afin de ne pas mettre au chômage les travailleurs engagés sur le tournage. Il termine rapidement puis part avec une équipe de camarades couvrir les débuts de la guerre. Si le titre n’avait pas été déjà utilisé par Dziga Vertov, Enthousiasme aurait parfaitement convenu au récit de Guerra.
(2) Il faut être un producteur indépendant pour se lancer dans la réalisation d’un projet aussi peu susceptible d’intéresser la ménagère de moins de cinquante ans. Du moins, les programmateurs des télévisions en sont convaincus. En conséquence, la diffusion du film n’est pas acquise et il convient de remercier Zangra pour cette prise de risque.
(3) Sympathique au demeurant, mais quelle intelligence du social peut-on avoir quand on cite, au cours du débat, Georges Sadoul comme référence pour l’histoire du cinéma ? Comment peut-on encore s’étonner en 1999 qu’un Georges Sadoul ignore tout d’Armand Guerra et de La Coopérative du cinéma du peuple ? C’est pourtant simple : tout comme la pédagogie révolutionnaire commence avec Makarenko, le cinéma révolutionnaire naît avec Dziga Vertov et Eisenstein.
Updated Jan 2003; links checked March 2006
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