Nieves Martin*

Edificio España is a film for Victor Moreno and comes in 94 minutes. It is considered as a metaphor for the modern history of the state and its society in the wake of a severe economic crisis.

The film handles the reconstruction and internal demolition of the building that was once the tallest sky scraper in Spain. It dates back to 1953. It is a 28-storey building and had hundreds of offices, apartments, stores, restaurants, and one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

 Victor Moreno completed his work but the building owners halted the screen and distribution (Al Jazeera)

Through the desired ends of buildings and cities in the middle of the 20th century, the construction had begun in 1947 to serve the reign of the dictatorship of Franco (1939 - 1975). It was meant to promote the image of wealth before the world in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and the poverty it had caused. With building such projects, he wanted to promote for the economic mighty of the country. The best example on that are the inscriptions and paintings on the big wall of the main hall that depicted Zeus and other icons of wealth.

 Once the director sought permission for shooting the internal demolition of the building, very little was what he knew about the obstacles laid ahead of his documentary film. The shooting was done by a shoulder-mounted camera, which made him dedicate the film to those who shared those difficulties with him. The dedication was made to those who agreed to appear in the film. However, upon the completion of shooting the film, Santander Bank, the owner of the building since 2005, refused to approve the screen and distribution of the film.

 The capital perspective
The Spanish capital that inspired the construction of the building then didn't want to disclose the dark and deteriorating side of renovation in its early stage. With the years to follow, the building was not completely finished. It only had the façade and the supporting pillars.

The building owners refused to screen or distribute a film about the demolition of a 60-year-old memory

The internal renovation ruined the exceptional features of the building, except for the main amenities, such as the main hall with its paintings, stair cases, and other amenities in the ground floor that underwent refurbishment and other security and electric fittings.

The film begins with an overview of the historical snapshots of the building in silent takes, pointing to the early building process. Following to that were takes of important abandoned things, such as the used dirty clothes in rooms, or a computer keyboard in a toilet. After these silent takes, the noise of the current construction work rises. Shovels and machineries do wonders in the floors and walls. There are more than 200 workers from different nationalities; the last workers to leave the building were the main characters in the film.

 The building begins to remove its internal structure and its own history too. All these great objects related to the memory of the building stays in the back with the history of the apartments overlooking the stunning sceneries of the city. These roofs have pools that reach the sky.

Despite the simple or most distinguished moments of those who had lived in this building, the film serves like a wedding night, a rumor about a haunted section of this building, or the bitter memory of a man who had lost his wife in the building three years prior to its evacuation.

The film pace heightened when the camera ascended gradually from the ground floor, where fitting and maintenance rooms are, taking a tour between rooms and offices one by one. It is hard to pass by those places without stopping for a while to think and contemplate.

Other stories
Although the country is suffering from an economic crisis, the radio news that the workers are listening to indicates a growth and new jobs will be created, according to the former president Zapatero (2004 - 2012).

Away from politics and economics, the workers relate in their breaks different stories about their love, countries, food, religions, and everything related to humanity. The building walls will guarantee all that for a long time.

200 people worked in the demolition of an important icon in the collective memory of Spain (Al Jazeera)

After demolition, the first stage of the project stopped in 2012. It is the same year the film had stopped too, and the workers returned to their countries to join the long queue of unemployed people. However, the building has a story that follows. Last year the richest man in China, Wang Jianlin, bought the building for almost half of its price. Then he decided to restore the building and develop the whole area by annexing it to the most famous plaza in Madrid, Spain Plaza.

While waiting for the work to start again, the film Edificio España has begun to appear in several international festivals. Especially, it was nominated for Goya Award 2015, the best national award. More importantly, the memory tape in the film began to form a collective memory of this significant building. It was described as a civil heritage of people who lived in it, as if it was a model of a bigger state.

*A Spanish writer

Source : Aljazeera