Fighter in the Spanish Civil War, lover of Frida Kahlo, associate of Rothko and Pollock: Josep Bartoli had a colorful life. The Catalan cartoonist and political activist is the latest historical figure to get an animated biopic — a burgeoning genre in Europe.
Josep, the directorial debut of French artist Aurel, comes out in French theaters tomorrow, September 30. The 2d feature centers on a pivotal moment in Bartoli’s life — his incarceration in a French concentration camp as a refugee from the Civil War — thus shining a light on an inglorious (and little-known) chapter of France’s history. Watch the trailer and read the official synopsis below:
February 1939. Spanish Republicans are fleeing Franco’s dictatorship to France. The French government has built concentration camps, confining the refugees, where they barely have access to hygiene, water, and food. In one of these camps, separated by barbed wire, two men will become friends. One is a guard, the other is Josep Bartoli (Barcelona 1910 — NYC 1995), an illustrator who fights against Franco’s regime.
Aurel (real name Aurélien Froment) is himself a respected political cartoonist in France. He started developing the idea for the film in 2010, after coming across Bartoli’s illustrations at a festival. As the director told Cineuropa, “His drawing of a one-legged Republican with crutches on the cover, the power of his lines and of the topic immediately caught my attention.”