Izaskun Arandia, a scriptwriter and film producer from the Basque Country, is currently producing an animation film called “To Say Goodbye” about the 4000 children who were evacuated from Santurtzi after the bombing of Gernika in 1937.
“To Say Goodbye” is a compelling, emotional and dramatic feature-length animated documentary set against the brutal backdrop of the Spanish Civil War.
It blends frank and heartbreaking interviews from the last survivors of one of Europe’s most tragic yet neglected stories with vivid classical and 3D animation to tell the little-known story of the 4,000 Basque children evacuated from the port of Bilbao to England in 1937.
Originally these children were told they were only going away for three months.
But as we approach the 75th Anniversary of the evacuation, some remain in England, forever separated from their families and their homelands and, often, deprived of the chance to ever see their parents again.
It is through interviews with these children, now all in their 80s and 90s, that the story of the evacuation of the Basque children following the bombing of Guernica in 1937 will be told.
We never see these interviewees, it is simply their words that form the story; first-hand memories that remain fresh and emotional as they recall the on-set of the Spanish Civil War, how it affected their lives in the Basque Country, the disappearances of friends and family, the agonizing decision made by their parents to send them away, and the despair shown on the quayside in Bilbao as they had to bid farewell to their parents for the final time.
They describe the horrendous boat crossing to England and then life in the camps in the south of England, all the while hoping and expecting to return home to their parents. They reveal how weeks turned into months and then into years and describe how false hopes, deceit and deception ensured 250 of them would never return and never see their parents again, destined to remain in England for the rest of their lives.
And throughout, their stories are illustrated with memorable and striking animation depicting in stylised imagery their emotions, their journey, and their memories, to form an animated feature-length documentary unlike any seen before.
“To Say Goodbye” is a documentary that presents the final opportunity for those who lived through this harrowing and tragic event to tell their story and to to remind us of a period in history that should never be forgotten.
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