Films & Schedules

  • Return to Hansala
    Retorno a Hansala

  • Chus Gutiérrez

Spanish, Arabic, Bereber
95 minutes

Production Company:
MUAC Films/Maestranza Films
Carlos Santurio, Antonio Pérez, Chus Gutiérrez
Chus Gutiérrez, Juan Carlos Rubio
Production Designer:
Sandra de la Torre
Kiko de la Rica
Fernando Pardo
Eva Valiño
Tao Gutiérrez
Principal Cast: Farah Hamed, José Luis García Pérez, Antonio de la Torre, Cuca Escribano, Antonio Dechent

Wednesday September 1008:00PM VARSITY 3 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1301:00PM VARSITY 6 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Travelling in a rubber raft from Morocco to the Iberian Peninsula costs 200,000 pesetas ($1,900 CAD). Returning in a zinc coffin costs 500,000 ($4,790 CAD).

– Spain's El País newspaper, December 4, 2001.

The plight of the African migrant is a major topic in Europe today. Spaniards are accustomed to opening newspapers and reading about the scores of bodies that have washed up on Spanish shores, just forty kilometres from Africa. One of these all-too-common news items was the inspiration for Chus Gutiérrez's latest feature, Return to Hansala.

Martín (José Luis García Pérez) owns a funeral home in Algeciras, Spain, right on the Strait of Gibraltar. He is experiencing financial difficulties, so when the Spanish police recruit his services after an especially large number of bodies is found on a nearby shore, he accepts the call. One of the dead young men is clenching a piece of paper with a telephone number, the only clue to the origin of the deceased.

Leila (Farah Hamed) comes to identify the corpse of her younger brother. Despite the high cost, she decides to drive back to her Moroccan village with Martín to return her brother's body to her parents, as well as to bring back the clothing of the other dead to see if they can be identified. She is racked with guilt, as she was the one who sent her brother the money for the dangerous voyage. Together, Leila and Martín begin a journey that will change their lives forever.

Gutiérrez paints a deeply moving portrait of the dilemma suffered by those so unfavoured by circumstances. Leila's village is desperately poor, yet Martín is overwhelmed by their generosity, and he begins to rethink his business venture. The stunning African landscape is beautifully captured as they travel through Morocco. Gutiérrez's road movie offers a harsh critique of the disparity between rich and poor, as well as an indictment of Europeans' treatment of immigrants. Ultimately, the film is about the possibility for change and growth, as Martín's experience transforms him into a helper rather than a mere profiteer of other people's misery.

Diana Sanchez

Chus Gutiérrez was born in Granada and moved to Madrid as a child. She has directed numerous short films and the documentary Sexo Oral (93). Her feature filmography includes Sublet (91), Alma Gitana (95), Insomnio (97), Poniente (02), El Calentito (04) and Return to Hansala (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award