Terremoto, the documentary

To continue the 2022 blogging, let me recommend everyone a documentary.

I feel I have a special connection to this documentary and in order to explain it, we need to go back in time… It was perhaps 2011 or 2012, when I started going to the one and only Verena Menichelli’s flamenco class in central London. I absolutely loved those dance classes, not only because Verena was a wonderful, enthusiastic teacher, but because we had such an incredible group of people learning flamenco together. I haven’t realised at the time what a diverse group of individuals we had, from all ages and backgrounds, and many different countries like Japan, China, South Africa, Brazil, Slovakia, France, Spain but also many Londoners, all learning the compas and the choreography. Some were more advanced than others, but without the unhealthy competitive atmosphere that one experienced in other flamenco classes in London.

It was amazing. We were amazing.

Verena, Marilyn, Marie-Anne, Monique, Lucia, Jessica, Magda, Ixion, Marilena, Chiara, Joanna, Jelena, Jovita, Aika and the list goes on.

Among us, there was an architect from Madrid, Alvaro. He seemed quiet at first, but once we started chatting, we couldn’t stop talking about the singers we liked and the concerts we were going to go to. We started a friendship that we were lucky to share with our partners, and we saw each other outside of flamenco classes too. Until they moved back to Madrid… Next I hear is that Alvaro wants to do a documentary about Fernando Fernandez Monje, a.k.a. Terremoto from Jerez… and he did!

It took him and his friends a few years to complete the film, but it is no surprise, when you have a job, a young family, you live 600km from the location, you don’t know anyone in the industry and if this wasn’t enough, Covid appeared on planet Earth… Plus when you do something for the first time in your life, you make mistakes. Mistakes you will not make on your next film. Alvaro explained this and other interesting facts about the shooting in an interview with Jose Maria Velazquez Gaztelu in the radio program “Nuestro Flamenco” [Our flamenco] – I know! He had an interview on one of the most famous flamenco programs with a living legend of flamenco history and knowledge, Jose Maria V.G. How cool is that! You can listen to the interview on the website of the radio here. Heads up – it is in Spanish.

This documentary is unique simply because there is no other documentary about Terremoto. But before I talk about the documentary, do you know who Terremoto de Jerez is? Well, he is a figure in flamenco that you should know. His name is Fernando Fernandez Monje, known artistically as Terremoto from Jerez, which means in Spanish “the Jerez earthquake”. Apparently, he took the name from his brother, who was a flamenco dancer. Terremoto and his son, Fernando and his grand-daughter Maria are one of the singing dynasties of Jerez de la Frontera, a big town in the province of Cadiz, Andalusia. The tragedy of this family is that both Terremoto from Jerez and his son, Fernando died young; Terremoto at the age of 47 and Fernando at the age of 40.

The documentary follows through the life of Terremoto and at the same time it presents clips of Spain during a good fifty years of the XX. century. You can see a collection of images from the old times, many in black and white, showing life after the civil war, tablaos in Madrid and the life of a flamenco artist in the ’50-60s Spain. There is a lot of music and singing and many interviews with famous flamenco artists, such as the guitarist, Manuel Morao, the dancer/singer Romerito from Jerez, the photographer Pepe Lamarca, the singer who since passed away, Jose Menese and one of the stars of the current flamenco scenery, David Lagos. Not to mention the appearence of the Fernandez family: children of Terremoto and his grand-daughter Maria. You can even hear the original voice of Terremoto!

They called him “The artist of artists”, “Hurricane of his time”. His capacity of transmission and the energy he was able to transfer to the public made him stand out back then and even now.

I could praise the film and the crew more, but what I’d rather do, is recommend you watch the documentary. The good news is that it is available on the Spanish National Television channel “La 2”. Although the documentary premiered in the cinemas of Madrid in October 2021, it has just been released on TV in the program “Imprescindibles” [Essentials] and you can watch it for free until 28 March. Heads up again: it is in Spanish but it has subtitles, so it should be easier to follow. And even if you don’t speak Spanish, you may enjoy the old images, the music and the singing.

The only thing to remember is that it is only available until 28 March. If you miss the deadline, get in touch with Alvaro and the team on the original website of the production, I leave the link here. You can also see the teaser there and there is information about the crew, including their contact details.

“Terremoto, el documental”

[Terremoto, the documentary]

Here is the link to the Spanish TV.

Click on play at bottom of the page for the streaming to start.

Enjoy and viva Jerez!

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