At the end of the 19th century in Europe, images which, until then, had been static, came to life thanks to the invention of cinematography. Catalonia did not remain on the sidelines. In 1897, Fructuoso Gelabert filmed Baralla en un Cafè (Fight in a café), which is considered the first fictional film in the history of Catalan and Spanish cinema.
From this point on, many other films have become a watershed in the evolution of the ‘seventh art’ in Catalonia. Of these was one of the key films of surrealist cinematography, Un chien andalou (1928), which was the result of an intense week spent by Luis Buñuel in Cadaqués with Salvador Dalí. As well, Montserrat is the main setting for filming of the blockbuster Parisfal (Daniel Mangrané, 1951).
During the Civil War, Espoir/Sierra de Teruel (André Malraux, 1938) became a valuable document on the activity of the Republican side, although it wasn’t released until 1978. In the midst of Francoism, Los Tarantos (Rovira Beleta, 1963) is a raw testimony about the urban fringes. And the period of the Spanish ‘transition’ cannot be understood without La ciutat cremada, The Burnt City, (Antoni Ribas, 1976).
In addition to the film production one must also take into account the preservation of this heritage. One of the main Catalan institutions dedicated to preservation and dissemination of such films is the Filmoteca de Catalunya, with a collection that includes more than 8,000 films and that has a regular programme of screenings. With regard to alternative and experimental cinema, the benchmark is the Xcèntric Archive of the CCCB. There is also the Girona Museum of Cinema, which displays close to 8,000 pieces of equipment and pre-cinematographic objects of the Tomàs Mallol collection.