The task was not so easy. The participants in the workshop had to make a three-minute documentary in four days. The subject was Santiago de Compostela, where the workshop was held as part of Curtocircuito—ShortCircuit in Gallego—one of a number of new film festivals which have grown up in Spain, as in many other countries, in the last few years.

It was a pleasure to be invited back to Santiago – where I taught a course in documentary five years ago – to run this workshop, which was organised by one of my students back then, Inés Colmeiro, who has turned into an excellent producer.

Some of the workshoppers were students at the University, others young professionals. Working in pairs, they all completed the task, although inevitably with different levels of accomplishnment. Some were worried that they didn’t have a proper storyline, others quickly decided that the exercise called for a poetic or essayistic approach in miniature.

For my part, the final job was to select the best for special mention and screening at the closing ceremony. The Festival kindly allowed me to divide the award between two groups. One of them was a beautifully sensitive portrait of a young blind man who has learnt to ride a horse, Justo antes de dormirte (Carmela Fernandez and Carla Rivera). The other a visual poem with a philosophical punchline taken from Engels’ Anti-Duhring about the nature of reality, Materia (Pablo Fontenla and Marce Magan). But I couldn’t resist giving a personal mention to a third project, which strayed from the brief by taking the workshop itself as the subject, and me in particular but without my own direct participation—in short, an animated documentary, or what we used to call a cartoon—This is Michael Chanan (Pablo Portero and Fernando Lema).

My thanks to the Festival and the film-makers for permission to post these short films here. I’ll try and put up subtitled versions later.

1. Justo antes de dormirte (nb film begins with a black screen)

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2. This is Michael Chanan

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Materia – coming soon

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