Cataluña en el diván / Catalonia on the Couch
Brief synopsis of the project:
With the testimony of a wide-range of everyday people mixed with scenes of daily life, the film explores the socio-psychological underpinnings of the language conflict in Catalonia.
Developed synopsis of the project:
After centuries of linguistic conflict between Spanish and Catalan--including the persecution of Catalan for decades under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco and then the language's promotion to (co)official status after his death--the collective psyche of Catalan society suffers a peculiar neurosis. Today, the simple matter of a restaurant owner choosing which language to use on his menus can reveal anxieties about immigration, historical memory, collective rights, the construction of identity and the role of the state in normalizing behavior.
'Catalonia on the Couch' explores the ongoing language conflict in Catalonia through the testimony of a wide spectrum of people who live there. One after another, young and old, a stream of dozens of residents of Catalonia from across the political and socioeconomic spectrum will sit down on the same couch to reveal personal stories from the front lines of the conflict. The participants are not politicians, academics or other such experts, but rather everyday people with personal stories of frustration, misunderstanding, and alienation that reveal the complex relationship between language, identity and power.
Many Catalan speakers feel their language is disappearing under their feet, but in some circumstances they are shamed out of speaking it. Many Spanish speakers resent what they see as an imposition of Catalan. Many new arrivals look quite harshly on Catalan, perceiving its use as excluding them, while other newcomers embrace it as a means of integration. Some with Spanish as a first language grow up to self-identify as Catalan speakers, while others with Catalan as a first language prefer to use Spanish by default. All have their reasons, and their techniques for navigating Catalonia's tricky linguistic terrain reveal unavoidable tensions.
The edited film will play as a stream-of-consciousness, jumping from participant to participant and back again to create the effect of a single character--Catalan society--in conflict with itself.
Preview locations of shooting:
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This project is at the earliest stages of development and its form as well as budget may be altered somewhat as it advances.