The filming of The Schoolteacher who Promised the Sea

Maestro

A story based on the life of the schoolteacher Antoni Benaiges.

 The Schoolteacher who Promised the Sea is a film shot over 6 weeks on locations around Barcelona and in Briviesca (Burgos). It is produced with the support of ICAA and ICEC and the participation of TVE and TV3, and is based on the true story of the schoolteacher Antoni Benaiges.

Benaiges was born in 1903 in Mont-roig del Camp (Tarragona). As a teacher, he was assigned to a state school in Bañuelos de Bureba, a small village in Burgos.

He arrived in the village and changed the lives of his pupils because he was a different and unique teacher. Antoni was a follower of Freinet’s pedagogical ideas, which were based on giving pupils the opportunity to express themselves.    To this end, he brought a printing press to school so the words and thoughts of his pupils could be  printed and published as journals. A pioneering and revolutionary methodology, it encouraged free expression, and these publications became an effective tool for learning and socialization.

Antoni found out that his pupils had never seen the sea and together they published a journal entitled The Sea, a Vision by Children who Had Never Seen Her.

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The film is produced by Minoria Absoluta, Lastor Media and Filmax (Mestres Films, AIE), directed by Patricia Font, and stars Enric Auquer and Laia Costa. It is based on the book of the same name by Francesc Escribano.

To tell the story of Antoni Benaiges, the film interweaves past and present. In the present, Ariadna (Laia Costa) discovers that her father has been trying to discover the whereabouts of her grandfather, Bernado, for some time. She travels to Burgos, to her grandfather’s village, where a mass grave is being exhumed and in which Bernardo’s body may be buried. In the village, Ariadna learns of Antoni Benaiges (Enric Auquer), who was her grandfather’s teacher. She decides to find out more about this teacher, as it is possible that his trail may also lead her to her grandfather Bernardo. So she decides to continue her search, unearthing a moving story touched by tragedy: that of her grandfather’s teacher, who obtained a teaching post in a small isolated village in Burgos. There he establishes an intense relationship with his pupils, a group of boys and girls between the ages of six and twelve, to whom he makes a promise: to take them to see the sea for the first time. But the military uprising of 1936 put an end to the dream, while also cutting short the life of the teacher, who was cruelly tortured, murdered and interred in a mass grave.

75 years later, the granddaughter of one of the children, Ariadna, comes across a story and a character that had been erased from history.

Even today, in the third decade of the 21st century, the body of Antoni Benaiges is still unaccounted for.

One of the key moments in the film is the opening of the grave at La Pedraja (Burgos). The production’s art department, under the direction of Josep Rosell, has done an extremely meticulous job in reproducing the details of the grave that was exhumed in 2010. They were guided by Paco Etxeberria (forensic anthropologist) and Francisco Ferrándiz (anthropologist) who were both present at the opening of the mass grave over 12 years ago.

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Enric Auquer

Quién a hierro mata (Paco Plaza), Goya award for best supporting actor 2020. Vida perfecta (Leticia Dolera, Movistar), Feroz award for best supporting actor 2022. Sky rojo (Netflix), La vida padre (Joaquín Mazón).

Laia Costa

Victoria (Sebastian Shipper), German Academy award for best actress 2015, nominated for best actress European Film Awards 2015. Foodie Love (Isabel Coixet, HBO). Only You (Elena Aldana), Life Itself (Isabel Díaz), Cinco lobitos (Alauda Ruiz de Azúa), Silver Biznaga for best actress at the Festival de Málaga 2022.

Patricia Font

Café para llevar, Goya award for best fictional short 2015, Pulseras Rojas (Filmax, TV3), Cites (Arca Audiovisual, TV3). Gente que viene y bah (Zeta Cinema, Atresmedia Cine, Netflix, TV3). Les de L’Hoquei (Brutal Media, Netflix, TV3), La templanza (Atresmedia Studios, Amazon Prime Video) and Moebius (Veranda TV, TV3), Tras la pared (Netflix, Tripictures)

 

 

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