‘The jump’: The tragedy that hides in every migrant who jumps the Melilla fence | Culture


From the slope of Mount Gurugú, in Morocco, you can see the entire city of Melilla. It is the entrance to Spain, to Europe. Although, of course, before, the fence imposes its metallic forcefulness. Twelve kilometers of border, with a height ranging from six to 10 meters, with areas topped with curved bars that make jumping difficult and others crowned by an anti-climbing cylinder. That, on the Spanish side. Morocco has built another fence with concertinas (sharp wire that was removed from the Spanish wall) and embankments with ditches. Last year, 166 immigrants entered there. But in 2022, 1,135 accessed and before the pandemic, in 2019, 4,984. They entered, others died. On June 24, 2022, at least 24 people died, most of them crushed or suffocated, in a tragedy that resonated throughout Europe. That’s not what it’s about, and at the same time it is, The jump, the new film by Benito Zambrano, a drama in which the Gurugú and massive avalanches devour the final part of a finely constructed narrative attached to the future of Ibrahim, a man who desperately struggles to enter Spain to be with his partner, pregnant.

“The first thing is to give these migrants names, not to stop at statistics or numbers,” warns the filmmaker (Lebrija, 58 years old), the director of Alone (1999), The sleeping voice (2011) or Outdoor (2019). The jump participates, out of competition in the official section, in the Malaga festival, before its commercial premiere on April 12. “The big problem with immigration, and I hope the film is useful in this, is that we very easily forget that they are people, with their own past. They seek to come to Europe to earn a living, indeed, but they also come because we need them: they do the jobs we don’t want, they rejuvenate an increasingly aging population. The topic is very complex because it touches on a lot of conflicts transversally. I’ll give you a quick one: who is going to pay our pensions in the coming years?

Benito Zambrano, along with Ibrahim (Moussa Sylla) and Aminata (Edith Martínez Val), in the filming of ‘El Salto’, on the false Mount Gurugú, reconstructed in Madrid.

Zambrano gets excited, underlining his speech: “What is going to happen in 20 years when the doctor or nurse who treats you tells you that if your mother had not arrived in a boat or your father arrived in a cayuco, no one would cure you? And now that the brothers Iñaki and Nico Williams are triumphing at Athletic Bilbao, do we forget about the journey of their parents?” Maria Arthuer, pregnant with Iñaki, jumped over that same fence in Melilla, coming from Ghana and after having crossed the Sahara Desert on foot. “Not to mention that human beings exist in Europe because some Africans decided thousands of years ago to emigrate.” Zambrano searches on his cell phone facial reconstruction Nugget, the epipaleolithic skeleton with 10,000 years of a 19-year-old woman found in a cave in Nerja: “It is clear that she was black, right? By Nugget we exist.”

Ibrahim, the protagonist of The jump, He has earned his living on construction sites in Spain. His partner, Mariama, is pregnant. But Ibra does not have papers, he is not even registered, and when they stop him on the street he cannot prove roots. Confined in a CIE (foreign detention center), he rebels to not be just another number. He will end up deported to his country, Mali, and will once again struggle to enter Europe, being cannon fodder for human traffickers who ship them in a punctured boat, and, later, an inhabitant of one of the camps on the Moroccan Mount Gurugú, since the one who prepares to, in an avalanche, jump over the Melilla fence.

“The script is by Flora González Villanueva, who during confinement lived next to a CIE. Her merit is hers. I investigated on my own after receiving the order, and confirmed that the treatment at the CIE is very bad, or that it is impossible to enter Spain on a regular basis. Speaking with an expert he told me that there are only Spanish consulates general in two countries in all of Africa that really work to obtain a visa,” explains Zambrano.

The fence of Melilla, in 'El Salto', by Benito Zambrano.
The fence of Melilla, in ‘El Salto’, by Benito Zambrano.

Although the film sails between the waters of drama and thriller, Zambrano returns to his mantra: “I have never made a film that I consider as necessary and as useful as this one. I do not have answers for such a complex problem, although I do know that in Spain things do not improve even if the party in power changes, and that, on the other side of the border, sub-Saharan migrants suffer brutal racism, because Moroccans they despise, something I discovered in pre-production. “What I read about what the Moroccan police do to these people is very impressive.” The fence in the film was built, in a large industrial estate on the outskirts of Madrid, by “the same company that built the one in Melilla”; Mount Gurugú was reproduced near the San Juan reservoir, “with very similar pine trees,” and the rest was filmed in the Canary Islands.

The director talks about other Spanish films close to this theme, such as 14 kilometers, Adu either Mediterranean, and confesses that he has not seen I captain, by Matteo Garrone. The talk ends with a doubt from Zambrano and a certainty: “Let’s see how the public receives a Spanish film that is told in several languages ​​with sub-Saharan protagonists. Cinema is an art that is built from a great lie to tell a great truth. And of all the arts, it is probably the one that tells you in the least amount of time and in the most powerful way a truth that reaches the bottom of your heart.”

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