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Special Interview Feature

“My film’s message is simple: our home is worth fighting for”

Gibraltarian filmmaker Ana Garcia speaks to the New Statesman about her most personal project to date

In June 2010, filmmaker Ana Garcia returned home to Gibraltar to get married. She found herself compelled to create a film that shared the story of her family and her birthplace, and the subsequent release “Gibraltar: My Rock” (picked up and broadcast by the BBC in 2013) mapped a history of the territory which was personal, political, and bounded by place.

Here, Garcia speaks with the New Statesman about the inspiration behind her film and the untold side of Gibraltar it reveals.

New Statesman: How did you become a filmmaker?

Ana Garcia: I studied TV, film and theatre throughout my education, finally specialising in film at the University of Bristol. I also spent a year studying Italian cinema in Italy, and got my first job on a documentary about Italy for the Discovery Channel. Like most people, I started out making tea and now I produce and direct documentaries for broadcast TV in the UK, while pushing my own independent films forward.

NS: Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind your film “Gibraltar: My Rock”. Why did you decide to make it?

AG: The film’s purpose is to bring Gibraltar’s story to light and make it real for an international audience. As with most news stories, Gibraltar is often represented in terms of numbers, facts and figures: 30,000 people, 2.3 square miles, six hour queues at the frontier. None of this means anything to the average reader, sipping their cup of coffee on their way to work.

I made this film for so many reasons. I was an impressionable 10 year old girl when I first noticed how a Spanish customs officer at the frontier pawed over my mother’s passport at a slow, threatening pace.  There was, and still is, a sense of lawlessness at the border and I promised myself then that if nothing else, I would tell the story. The film’s message is very simple; our land, our home, our family, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant to the rest of the world, is always worth fighting for.

NS: In the film you piece together a history of Gibraltar that is both personal and political. How is politics a part of your family history?

AG: Gibraltar is like one big family, so the film introduces us to the Gibraltarians through my own family. I made it personal to show that we’re talking about 30,000 brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters being bullied at the frontier, every day.

My great-grandfather was Albert Richard Isola, the first member of the Legislative Council in Gibraltar. My grandfather was Peter Isola, the leader of the DPBG (Democratic Party for a British Gibraltar) and twice Leader of the Opposition. The Chief Minister at the time, Sir Joshua Hassan, was an old rival of my grandfather’s and yet the two men put their differences aside when [General] Franco began his onslaught on Gibraltar. He made two trips to the United Nations with Sir Joshua Hassan, in 1963 and 1964, to plead Gibraltar’s case.