International premiere of the Prismas 2019 winner: El Enigma Agustina

  • The Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) has hosted the first international screening of the film El Enigma Agustina, which has been awarded with the Prismas 2019 prize in the category of “Best unique audiovisual project”.
  • Manuel González and Emilio J. García directed El Enigma Agustina, an audiovisual project led at the Astrophysics Institute of Andalucia (IAA-CSIC) and sponsored by the Science and Technology Spanish Foundation (FECYT) .
  • El Enigma Agustina can be seen as a novel approach in scientific communication, which uses the film genre as a more approachable and entertaining format to go through the history of art and science in the XX century. 

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London, 19th October 2019. The international premiere of the movie El Enigma Agustina has taken place this Saturday morning in London, an event organised by the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) and sponsored by the Science and Technology Spanish Foundation (FECYT), the University College of London (UCL), and the Cervantes Institute (IC).

Around 60 people have enjoyed an audiovisual travel through the arts and sciences of the XX century. They have had the chance to revisit the life of renowned people such as Salvador Dalí or Pepín Bello as well as rediscover the role of intellectual women during this period, whose impact in history has been almost forgotten. The film highlights the achievements of a group of intellectual women known as Sinsombrero, who have not been given as much visibility nor recognition in history as their contemporary male colleagues of the Generación del 27.

From left to right: Carlos González (event organiser, member of the working group of the SRUK/CERU London constituency), Larissa Zárate (director of the SRUK/CERU London constituency), Manuel González (film director), Antonio Leiva (film actor, role: Andrés García), Emilio J. García (film director), Marta Broto (event organiser, member of the working group of the SRUK/CERU London constituency).

The directors, the physicists Manuel González and Emilio J. García, have successfully applied film genre techniques as an innovative approach to communicate science. “In total, we needed two years to finish this project, since we came up with the idea until the film was shot”, said the directors. “We were lucky enough to have professional actors such as Nerea Cordero (Esther), Antonio Leiva (Andrés), and Natalia Ruiz (Agustina); who decided to join this project even though we could not afford to pay them as much as they are in other projects they normally join. Basically, El Enigma Agustina exists thanks to the effort made by all the people involved in this project; and their passion, love, and commitment put in every stage they were part of”, they add.

El Enigma Agustina has recently received the Prismas 2019 prize in the category of “Best unique audiovisual project”. Nevertheless, this has not been the first recognition that credits and acknowledges this film’s innovative approach in science communication. In 2018, the film was granted the Grand Prix Unicaja BICC Ronda-Madrid-Mexico award in the category of “Best short film” at the BICC festival. It was also the finalist in the category of “Best feature-length national documentary film” at the I Certamen Cine Autor (VOD) festival. 

The event has closed with a roundtable with the film directors as leading speakers, during which several topics approached in the film have been discussed with the audience. During this session, topics such as the lack of recognition of women as role models in arts and sciences, the process needed to shoot the film, and the “astrocopla”, a new genre that Emilio defines as “a mixture between astronomy and copla, which was born when collaborating with Natalia, the actress playing Agustina, when trying to explain how a star is born and lives while having the music sang by Lola Flores and Rocío Jurado in the background”. During the Q&A session, the film directors highlight that “One of the stories told by the Spanish writer Almudena Grandes was a great inspiration to us when we were about to write the screenplay. Almudena tells that she will always remember that moment when she was 10 and found a picture of a naked woman wearing a skirt dancing. She was surprised that this picture was taken when her grandmother was young, hence realising she was not the most modern woman in the family as she had always believed: her grandmother had seen something that was uncommon in Spain in the Sixties!”. Both Manuel and Emilio agree with the fact that “If there is a take home message we want the audience to get is that progress is not a straight line, as Almudena tells in her story, and that things that have already been established and conquered do not really need to stay there forever”.