Saturday, September 25

Ian Gibson reveals an unpublished recording of the undertaker who buried Lorca: “I have the total conviction that he is here”


Ian Gibson remains convinced that he knows the exact place where Federico García Lorca’s body is buried. The place is near the Aynadamar canal, on the outskirts of Alfacar (Granada), right in the park that today bears the poet’s name. Although it has been fifty years since the renowned Hispanicist and biographer published this information in his book The death of Federico García Lorca. The nationalist repression of Granada in 1936, the recording on which Gibson bases his conviction had not seen the light. Now, thanks to the documentary Where memory ends, by Pablo Romero-Fresco, the document where Lorca’s gravedigger details the whereabouts of the body that he himself buried has been made public. Coinciding with the premiere of the documentary at the XVIII edition of the Cans Festival, the film’s producer has given the audio to elDiario.es.


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“They are not here [enterrados] more than those. The schoolmaster of Pulianas [Dióscoro Galindo], the two sons, Galadí, Cabezas and Lorca “, the undertaker Manuel Castilla tells Gibson in the recording collected in 1978. The biographer can then be heard asking him if he had ever returned to that stand, but the undertaker told him he answers no. “Do you have the total conviction [del paradero del cuerpo]? “Asks Gibson. Manuel Castilla does not take a second to answer him emphatically yes. The work of that man in August 1936 was to finish burying the bodies that already lay in the mass grave that has not yet been located today.

The in-depth study of the also biographer of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí led to an investigation in 2009 to search for the bodies of those retaliated by the coup party. Nothing could be solved in those works, but Gibson affirms that the explorations were not rigorous and criticizes the null interest of the poet’s family. “Nobody understands why Lorca’s family does not want to unearth him. They say it is because that would differentiate him from the rest, but that answer does not convince me. Exhuming Lorca could be the symbol of the great reconciliation that Spain needs,” he explains to elDiario. it is during a pause in the frenzy that surrounds the Cans Festival each September.

The granddaughter of Dióscoro Galindo, the teacher shot together with Lorca, unsuccessfully brought to the Constitutional Court his request to search for the human remains of both. Now, it will be the European Court of Human Rights that decides if the Spanish State has the duty to investigate and locate the bodies.

Gibson deeply trusts the gravedigger’s testimony and, over time, has slightly varied the possible location of the body based on the work of Luis Avial, supported by geo-radar techniques and new testimonies that the journalist Víctor Fernández rescued. However, there is no consensus among historians. The researcher Gabriel Pozo, author of the book Lorca, the last walk, assures that three Falangists and a policeman from Comandante Valdés’s guard (a military man who played a fundamental role in the coup in Granada) wrote down exact coordinates and a sketch of the supposed location of Federico García Lorca’s grave. A diametrically different thesis from Gibson’s and that states that the poet was unearthed and reburied elsewhere.

“If Spain does not face what happened during the dictatorship, the country will not be able to move forward with confidence into the future. It has not yet done so and it is pathetic. The right wing does not accept the criminality of the dictatorship, it is terribly mean,” he argues. Gibson. “This is an incredible country in potential, but it has not yet realized all that potential. It depends, to a large extent, on the Spanish right. It is necessary to unearth all the dead, as they did with theirs during forty years of dictatorship. Spain it cannot afford to have more than 100,000 corpses in pits and gutters. It cannot be that in the Valley of the Fallen there is a huge Christian cross, “he adds.

Ian Gibson firmly believes that there is nothing in Federico García Lorca’s work that could offend the right: “The smart thing to do would be to read it and see the Christian roots of the work. I am convinced that Lorca will soon be seen in that sense. It seems that we have already overcome the issue of homosexuality, “he explains. That theme, according to the biographer himself, was dramatic within the poet’s family. His brother, a professor at Columbia University, wrote a book about his life, Federico and his world, in which not a single reference to his homosexuality appears. “It was said that his private life had nothing to do with his work, when the reality is that all his work revolves around love that cannot be. Everything in Lorca is the search for love that cannot be found and that, if it lies, it goes, “reflects Gibson. “The problem is murder. It is the only thing that the right wing is not willing to assume. No one is seeking revenge, that is a vile lie. Only justice and reparation,” he adds.

The documentary Where memory ends

The recording that Ian Gibson kept in his archive since 1978 has become known with the premiere of the documentary Where memory ends, by Pablo Romero-Fresco in the XVIII edition of the Festival de Cans. In it, the director accompanies Gibson on a journey that intends to follow in Luis Buñuel’s footsteps to Las Hurdes, where the filmmaker recorded his historic documentary Land without bread; and towards the Residencia de Estudiantes, the epicenter of the avant-garde culture of Spain at the beginning of the 20th century. With the collaboration of Mike Dibb, Carlos Saura and Román Gubern, Romero-Fresco builds the portrait of Ian Gibson as a literary detective who has dedicated his life to recovering the recent memory of Spain through the biographies of three of his most recognized geniuses : Buñuel, Dalí and Lorca. The journey ends in Granada, where, after a 50-year search, Gibson believes he is closer than ever to finding Lorca’s remains and constituting them as a symbol of reconciliation for a country that refuses to make peace with its past.

The story behind the production of this film is bizarre. After filming and having taken a year to convert the 50 hours of footage they had into a final cut of one hour, Romero-Fresco’s computer where he kept the backup copy was stolen. That was the first of many collapses of Where memory ends for almost a decade, which also included the birth of the director’s two children and various job and country changes. Three years after the robbery, Gibson traveled to Granada to present the latest edition of his emblematic book on the murder of Lorca, in yet another attempt to find the remains of the poet. The film crew accompanied him and it was there that the Hispanicist allowed them to use the recording, never made public before, of his interview with the gravedigger of the poet from Granada.

The mystery of the letters between Lorca and Dalí

In addition, during the documentary, Gibson notes his sadness for not getting to know those most hidden parts of Lorca, everything related to his homosexuality. The biographer believes that many conclusions could be drawn from the epistolary relationship he had with Salvador Dalí: “When Lorca wrote to Salvador, he put the brightest of himself on paper, the most witty. I don’t know of a correspondence that resembles him,” he explains. Gibson. But it wasn’t all love and mutual admiration. In one of those letters, which represent a small part of the letters that were exchanged, Salvador Dalí harshly criticized the publication and the success of the Gypsy romance: “Your poetry moves within the illustration of the most stereotyped and conformist platitudes”. “Salvador and Federico loved each other, but they could not give themselves to each other because they were both very ambitious and, in addition, Dalí told me personally that he was not homosexual,” Gibson concludes.



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