500,000 Spaniards fled after the Spanish Civil War ended in victory for nationalist general Francisco Franco in 1939. The refugee outflux started even earlier in some Republican, northern regions. Diarios del exilio uses 8mm films from various archives to illustrate this mass exodus. Anonymous home movies alternate with archival footage of public appearances by political leaders such as Dolores Ibárruri, the Basque communist who coined the famous slogan ¡No pasarán! during the battle for Madrid.
The sources' personal nature lends an almost airy feel to a dramatic chapter in Spanish history. Footage shot in the exiles' new countries in Northern Europe or South America is virtually indistinguishable from joyful holiday films. Nevertheless, there is this pervasive sense of displacement and loss, expressed by the dark tonality of the electronic score.