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February 1939. Spanish republicans are fleeing Franco’s dictatorship to France. The French government built concentration camps, confining the refugees, where they barely have access to hygiene, water and food. In one of these camps, separated by barbed wire, two men will become friends. One is a guard, the other is Josep Bartoli (Barcelona 1910 – NYC 1995), an illustrator who fights against Franco’s regime.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    74 minutes
  • Language
    French, Spanish
  • Country
    France, Spain, Belgium
  • Note
    The animated feature Josep takes a strikingly original approach to the story of Josep Bartolí, a Catalan artist who fought Franco in the Spanish Civil War and later went into exile in Mexico City and New York. The film focuses on a relatively little known but particularly dark episode in European history: after the fall of Barcelona to Franco’s troops in January 1939, 500,000 refugees escaped to France, only to be detained in French concentration camps. One of these refugees was Josep Bartolí, who created a visual record of the abysmal conditions in which he and his fellow Republicans were kept. But the focus here is primarily on the unlikely friendship between the Catalan artist and Serge, a rookie French police officer charged with guarding the camp. Told in flashback by the elderly Serge to his teenage grandson, Josep combines an illuminating attention to historical detail and flights of the imagination that carry Serge from the South of France to Mexico to reunite with Josep and meet his (real-life) mistress Frida Kahlo. With his feature debut as a director, prominent French cartoonist Aurel reveals his affinity for the power of drawing, combining standard animation techniques with haunting sequences conceived to capture the feel of Bartolí’s prison sketches.
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
    Jean-Louis Milesi
  • Cast
    Sergi Lopez, Valérie Lemercier