The Endless Trench or Trincheras Infinitas is a film (now on Netflix starring Antonio de la Torre and Belén Cuesta) based on the stories of the ´topos´ - those that went into hiding at the end of the Spanish Civil War. These people hid for fear of reprisals from the Francoist forces who were carrying out a violent campaign against known Republicans that had resisted the Nationalist victors. In particular, those republicans that had made public their politics, such as Manuel Cortes, the Socialist mayor of Mijas (yes, the very same donkey-ride town on the Costa del Fun) who hid behind a constructed wall in his village house for over 30 years.
Cortes was just one of many, that survived - or died this way, knowing that the alternative was imprisonment, torture or even death. His story was first told back in the early 1970's when British writer, Ronald Fraser* interviewed Cortes for his book: In Hiding. First published in 1972, the book reveals his political background, his involvement with struggle for equality and education in Mijas and his later choice to flee the pueblo.
As Cortes leaves Mijas to head for Malaga, the coastal city is invaded by Italians, tanks and Franco's feared Moroccan troops that spare no-one as they plough through a defenceless coastal town. Malaga had hoped for Republican reinforcements, to protect them, they had awaited reinforcements that they were told were on there way, but none had come. There was little choice but to evacuate the city, and Cortes found himself part of that exodus along the coastal road that came to be known as the Carretera de Muerto.
The Story of the Malaga Exodus, and the horrific journey to Almeria and beyond is told in the audio and ebook
The Ambulance Man and the Spanish Civil War. (Read more here)
Cortes eventually finds himself back in Mijas at the end of the War, wishing to hand himself in to the authorities, but is convinced to go into hiding after learning that other Republicans had been shot after giving themselves up. And so beings his 30 years - In Hiding.
Finally, a general amnesty is issued by Franco in 1969 to commemorate the 30 years since the ending of the civil war. Cortes is able to finally step outside his house and register as part of the amnesty. Within a few years his story is told, recorded and printed as the book: In Hiding (1972) by Ronald Fraser.
(An excellent graphic documentary was made on the story of Manuel Cortes (30 Años de Oscurdiad) and shown at the film festival in Seville back in 2012. Fiona Flores Watson, describes the backdrop to the film here. )
La Trinchera Infinita (filmed in Higuera de la Sierra, north of Seville) is a compilation of accounts that depict the tragedies, the sufferings and the tension lived by the topos and those that supported - in secret - their concealed lives.
But don't think for a moment that this is just a story of a man hiding behind a wall. It is a story of lost freedom, loss of family unity and loss of identity too. But more importantly, it is a story of unbearable claustrophobia against a backdrop of lost hopes. Nominated for umpteen Goyas, Trinchera Infinita tells not of a single man in hiding, but that of a whole nation too.
*Ronald Fraser was a member of the editorial board of New Left Review. He also wrote Pueblo and Blood of Spain.