In the summer of 1961, the group Cantacronache, made up of young Italian ethnomusicologists, makes a clandestine trip to Spain to record popular songs of the anti-Franco resistance. A year later, they publish: Canti della nuova resistenza spagnola. The Francoist government, furious, orchestrates an international press campaign entitled The Drunkmen's Marseillaise. The songs are censored and the group is condemned in a resounding trial. Today, Emilio Jona and Lionello Gennero, in their nineties, are the last surviving participants of that adventure. Guided by the diary written on the road by the group, a film crew reproduces the Cantacronache’s journey in today’s Spain. The journey is punctuated by contemporary interpretations of the songs of yesteryear, as relevant today as they were then. Through the prism of oral memory and sound archives, the two journeys merge into an emotional and political geography of a territory (Spain) where the wounds of Franco's regime are still open. What remains of these songs, how do they resonate in the present tense?

After all these years of investigation, we have assembled a vast documentary base meticulously gathered from archives that puts Cantacronache’s journey into context: sound recordings, photographs, writings and films. At the same time, The drunkmen’s Marseillaise is not only a historical film that follows the traces of Cantacronache’s journey, but also a film open to the present. The luminous and unconscious spirit of the young people of Cantacronache permeates our approach. How do the struggles of the past resonate with the struggles of our present? What remains of these songs in Spanish society? The rise of populist and far-right parties is a common denominator throughout Europe, and puts the spotlight on the historical revision and reparation processes that have been taking place with varying degrees of success. It is against this backdrop that we get stories likethe one told in The Drunkmen's Marseillaise, a story that has been silenced for quite a long time now. Memory work is a heritage that only finds its meaning when we are able to activate it in the present.

Pablo Gil Rituerto
Alba Lombardia, Pablo Gil Rituerto
Alba Lombardia
Director of photography
Daniel Laporta
Film Editor
Pablo Gil Rituerto
Original Music
Altri credits

Selene Silvestri (Amministrazione); Anna Bossi (Assistente Fotografia)

Cast and characters

Emilio Jona, Lionello Gennero

Production Director
Giovanni Zaninotto
GraffitiDoc, Boogaloo, Les Films de l'Oeil Sauvage
con il sostegno di Film Commission Torino Piemonte - Piemonte Doc Film Fund - sviluppo giugno 2020, produzione dicembre 2022
Assistente di produzione
Cindy Juglair
Last update: 03 March 2023