Films & Schedules

  • Blind Sunflowers
    Girasoles Ciegos

  • José Luis Cuerda

98 minutes

Production Company:
Sogecine, E.O.P.C. Labarouta, Produccions A. Modiño
Fernando Bovaira, José Luis Cuerda, Emiliano Otegui
Rafael Azcona, José Luis Cuerda, based on the novel by Alberto Méndez
Production Designer:
Balter Gallart
Hans Burmann
Nacho Ruiz Capillas
Ricardo Steinberg
Lucio Godoy
Principal Cast: Maribel Verdú, Javier Cámara, Raúl Arévalo, Roger Príncep, Irene Escolar

International Sales Agent:

Saturday September 0602:45PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 3 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Monday September 0807:00PM VARSITY 6 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1203:00PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

The Spanish Civil War and the nearly forty-year dictatorship that followed continue to haunt Spanish cinema, nearly thirty-three years since Franco's death. This dark period in Spanish history has been examined across many genres, in works as diverse as Guillermo del Toro's acclaimed and fantastical Pan's Labyrinth (2006) to Spanish veteran José Luis Cuerda's Butterfly Tongues (1999), a realist look at how war robs children of their innocence. Cuerda returns to this troubled time with his latest feature, Blind Sunflowers, in which he investigates the darkness of the post-Civil War era, the effects of repression and the terrible consequences of the abuse of power.

Set in 1940, a year after the Civil War's end and a time of particularly violent oppression, Blind Sunflowers tells the tale of a family forced to lie to the outside world and live in constant terror of discovery. Every time that Elena (Maribel Verdú) walks into her flat and locks the door behind her, a different life begins. To the outside world, she appears to live alone with her son, Lorenzo (Roger Príncep), and daughter, Elenita (Irene Escolar). In reality, however, her husband Ricardo (Javier Cámara), a Republican schoolteacher, has been living in hiding with his family.

Salvador (Raúl Arévalo, in an incredibly nuanced performance) was a young seminary student when he was sent to the war. Now harbouring doubts about both the conflict and the priesthood, he has been posted as a teacher at Lorenzo's school, where he meets Elena and soon becomes obsessed with her. Increasingly tortured by the horrors that he not only saw but also committed during the war, Salvador struggles to quiet the conflict between his conscience and his desires – a flaw that threatens to destroy Elena and her family.

A carefully crafted script and an impeccable cast help to illuminate the terrors of the time. Populated with tortured souls victimized by the era, Blind Sunflowers is a powerful story about the destruction wrought by suppression and hypocrisy.
Diana Sanchez

José Luis Cuerda was born in Albacete, Spain. He worked extensively in television early in his career and taught film directing at the Universidad de Salamanca. He has also worked as a producer on several films, including Alejandro Amenábar's Thesis (96), Open Your Eyes (97) and The Others (01). As a director, his films include El Bosque Animado (87), La Marrana (92), Butterfly Tongues (99) and Blind Sunflowers (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award