Museo Reina Sofía and Documenta Madrid, an international film festival promoted by Madrid City Council, organise a retrospective on the films made by Gonzalo García-Pelayo (Madrid, 1947) between 1976 and 1986. A cult film-maker, club promoter, music producer, professional gambler, editor and a speculator in the contemporary immaterial economy, García-Pelayo fits multiples lives into one. The facets mentioned condense a personal concept of film, understood as a form of existence based on vitalism, limitless desire, occurrences as a narrative strategy and insubordination to predictability, be it on a formal or political level.
The retrospective bears the title of the first of eleven contemporary films García-Pelayo made over twelve months, between 2021 and 2022, during “the year of eleven films” as he calls it. An unmatched tour de force that demonstrates how film is a way of life, first and foremost, before an industry or profession. These eleven productions are screened in the second part of this series, during September 2022. The title of the programme is also the slogan that best defines García-Pelayo’s filmic corpus and explains with greater clarity a fascination the film-maker has ignited among a young generation of film-makers, artists and producers who have retrieved his body of work, viewing it as the keystone of a heterodox genealogy of Spanish film-making since the 1970s, as well as a model with which to confront a numb society.
The historical films this series assembles are set in Spain’s changing, tumultuous society during the Transition to democracy, in the wake of the death of Francisco Franco and the country joining the European Economic Community (1975–1986). A time in which the cracks of the dictatorship’s political authoritarianism and moral conservatism reach the force of a thriving counterculture and youth’s utopian yearning to build a new society, qualities that run through García-Pelayo’s film-making. With this framework in mind, the series dispenses with a traditional historicist and revisionist orientation to situate the film-maker in a contemporary dialogue, in thematic sessions, with young artists and producers, his major themes reverberating among them: sex as a free territory, misfits and the socially marginalised as lucid and honest anti-heroes, the radical co-existence of the exalted and the popular and music — flamenco, psychodelia, sevillanas — as an eruption of the real in fiction. Among it all is a kindred spirit which transgresses forms and the limits of a self-righteous society in 1975. Or 2022 for that matter.