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Considered one of the greatest war films ever, The Spanish Earth was produced with funds raised by a group of American intellectuals and Hollywood members who wanted to support the Spanish Republic, including poet Archibald McLeash, writer Lillian Hellman, Ernest Hemingway, and composer Virgil Thomson.
The film portraits the defence of Madrid and how its inhabitants try to survive and produce food for their soldiers. Stunningly shot, often in dangerous battle areas where the Spanish Civil War was taking place, The Spanish Earth can be considered one of the most significant and timely documents of our time.
After the war, Franco’s government declared Joris Ivens a persona non grata and banned him from entering the country. The filmmaker returned to Spain for the first time after the prohibition in 1985, when the Madrid’s Cinémathèque paid a deserved tribute to him.