Historias sin argumento is a programme that presents the different stages in the filmography of Pere Portabella (Figueres, 1929) as a filmmaker and producer from the 1950s to today. His production company 59 Films was the driving force behind some of the cornerstone productions of Spain’s post-civil war critical realism (Los golfos, Carlos Saura; El cochecito, Marco Ferreri; Viridiana, Luis Buñel). At the end of the 1960s he was involved with the formation of the Barcelona School. His early films as a director, written in collaboration with the poet Joan Brossa (Barcelona, 1919-1998) (No compteu amb els dits and Nocturn 29), combine the cultural inheritance of the avant-garde with the languages that were coming onto the scene and shaking up the 1960s, and became known as ‘new cinema’. He was one of the key figures in the development of independent, alternative and clandestine cinema whose work was inextricably linked to his political opposition to Franco’s regime. Films like Vampir-Cuadecuc (1970), Umbracle (1971-1972) and his series of short films about Joan Miró (1969-1973), along with his participation in the Grup de Treball, were radical interventions in the cinema and art worlds.
Portabella’s work opens a portal to the artistic and political practices of the 1960s and 70s that broke with the past, and to aspects of some of the less-explored periods in the history of Spanish cinema. The films in the programme are presented by critics, historians and filmmakers and the screenings are divided into two sessions. The first is a sort of assembly of films directed by Portabella and other directors like Jean-Luc Godard (Paris, 1930), Ingmar Bergman (Uppsala, 1918 - Fårö, 2007), Jean-Marie Straub (Metz, 1933) and Danièle Huillet (Paris, 1936 - Cholet, 2006), Alexander Kluge (Halberstadt, 1932), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Bologna, 1922 - Ostia, 1975) and Glauber Rocha (Vitória da Conquista, 1939 - Río de Janeiro, 1981), while the second presents films produced by Portabella including works by Antonio Maenza (Teruel, 1948-Zaragoza, 1969) and José Luis Guerín (Barcelona, 1960). The programme is guided by various themes including the idea of challenging the forms of illusion in films, the materialism of images, questioning forms of social identity and exploring the processes of viewer identification, the analysis of society and culture through reflections on aesthetic practices, and the status of images, memory, history and politics after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Historias sin argumento is, in short, an invitation to reflect on the contemporary forms of narrating memory and history through audiovisual practices.