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Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

University of Southampton recordings of ‘los niños' feature in film festival

Published: 25 September 2013
Child refugees in Southampton

An animated film featuring the recorded voices of refugees speaking about their memories of being evacuated to England as children during the Spanish Civil War will receive its UK premiere at the London Spanish Film Festival on 30 September.

The recordings made by the University of Southampton's Dr Alicia Pozo-Gutierrez's team of volunteers help illustrate the emotions and experiences of 4,000 Basque children, ‘los niños' who fled to Southampton in 1937.

The Modern Languages lecturer, says: "The children of 1937 are now in their 80s and 90s and the oral histories were intended as a record of their experiences for future generations. To have some feature in a film in this way takes this one step further, bringing their memories to life, while adding authenticity and power to the animation."

The child refugees, or niños, sailed on the ship SS Habana from Bilbao to Southampton to escape bombing in the Basque town of Guernica. On arrival, they were housed just outside Southampton in a huge make-shift camp at North Stoneham near Eastleigh, before eventually being sheltered in orphanages or hosted by English families. Most returned home but 250 remained in the UK.

‘To Say Goodbye' (IZAR films) tells of the emotional impact of the evacuation on the refugees - the loss of childhood, the hurried separation from their parents and how families were torn apart by a brutal conflict. Its producer Izaskun Arandia comments: "I was writing a film script about the Basque evacuee children of 1937 and while looking for information I came across Dr Alicia Pozo-Gutierrez's research. The interviews recorded in her project moved me so much that I knew there and then that the children's voices needed to be included in the film - they had to tell their own story."

The film will be screened at the London Spanish Film Festival on Monday 30 September and will be followed by a discussion about the relevance of historical memory.

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