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Dignity / Dignidad

Film, 88 mins, 2016

Related projects: The Reclaiming Workshop and the Obra Social Manual.

Dignity / Dignidad is a film about strategies of recuperation in times of crisis. Recuperation, in a literal sense, means the recovery or regaining of something.

The film focuses on “La Dignidad,” a residential building in Mostoles, a suburb of Madrid. The building was constructed during the real-estate boom but never occupied after the property market collapsed following the Spanish financial crisis starting in 2008. Housing activists from Stop Desahucios (Stop Evictions) in Mostoles took over the building in June 2014, and christened it “La Dignidad.” The activists made the decision to take over the building when they realized that more and more people coming to the weekly housing assemblies were either already homeless or were about to be evicted the following week. There are fifty people, individuals, and families, currently living in “La Dignidad,” 18 are children under the ages of 10.

The building “La Dignidad” is part La Obra Social (Social Work), a nation-wide campaign initiated by the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) which targets the hundreds of thousands of empty apartment buildings constructed during the Spanish housing bubble. The banks are the current owners of these buildings: they took over possession of the property from bankrupt developers who defaulted on their investment loans. The banks received massive government bailouts, while, at the same time, people were being evicted from their homes at unprecedented levels. The activists use these buildings, to relocate families and individuals with housing difficulties. The logic of the action is thus: if the banks belong to the public, then the houses do as well. These small, but steady acts of resistance challenge the logic of neoliberalism: little big victories to be shared and taken up by others and elsewhere. 

Most of the events and encounters portrayed in Dignity / Dignidad occur between Mostoles and Madrid, Spring / Summer 2015, during the post-election environment of new city governments lead by “rebel” mayors, and the Greek bailout referendum. Dull Janiell Hernández, a Cuban filmmaker and one of the occupants of La Dignidad, acts as editor for the film.

              

The English version of “La Obra Social Manual”, a translation project initiated by Michelle Teran accompanies Dignity / Dignidad.

Dignity / Dignidad was created within the context of the artist research conglomerate of Synsmaskinen –  an inquiry into contemporary crises.

Crew:
Director, Camera and Script: Michelle Teran
Editor: Dull Janiell Hernández
Post-production sound: Malte Steiner
Subtitling: Marisa Petit
Producer: Synsmaskinen

With the participation of:
Stop Desahucios Móstoles, Obra Social Móstoles, Obra Social La Dignidad, Obra Social Madrid, Obra Social Las Leonas

Music:
Me Cuesta Tanto Olvidarte
written by MECANO
performed by JORGE EMILIO GARCIA PORTELLES

No nos representan
performed by EMI RAP
Courtesy of ASOCIACIÓN DE MAGNI

Special Thanks:
Dull Janiell Hernández, Eva Álvarez de Andrés, Essam Daanoun, Zineb Lakhiouchi, Jorge Emilio Garcia Portelles, Mercedes Huray Martin, Pedro Salguero, María José Alonso Serrano, Ana Isabel Jiménez Caro, Ariadna Trujillo Jimenez, Alberto Astudillo García, Txetxu Molina, Monica Gomez Giraldo, Mario Cesar Godoy, Aitor, Ezequiel, Karim, Vanessa Moreno Cañete, Jorge Eduardo Baena Rodriguez, CSO La Casika, Obra Social Las Leonas, Obra Social La Dignidad, Obra Social Madrid, Obra Social Móstoles, Stop Desahucios Móstoles.