Heart of the Earth (2007)

A Spanish Woman and a British one become friends as the arrival of a Cuban anarchist in Rio Tinto, Spain, in 1888, inspires the workers to strike a British mining firm over dangerous air pollution and worker mistreatment.

Genre – Drama

Associate Producer – Walter Josten

Director(s) – Antonio Cuadri

Writer(s) – Doc Comparato and Antonio Cuadri

Cast – Catalina Sandino Moreno, Phillip Winchester, Sienna Guillory and Bernard Hill

Blue Rider’s Role – Arranged bridge financing and associate producers

Distributor(s) – OnPictures (Spain), 3L Filmverleih (Germany)

Release Date – 2007

Synopsis – This historical drama is set around the British-owned copper mines of Andalusia’s Rio Tinto in 1888 and depicts the friendship of two women, one Spanish and the other British, against the social upheavals of the time. Based on the true story of the arrival of Cuban anarchist Maximiliano Tornet, which resulted in a strike — the first ecological demonstration in history — and a massacre.

Blanca Bossa, age 9, and her British friend Kathleen, daughter of the mine’s director, witness the horrific living conditions of mine workers, as well as air pollution and acid rain.

People living in the huge area from Seville to Southern Portugal suffer from the toxic fumes the mining produces–as do animals.

Thousands of people from all over the Province of Huelva follow the revolutionary Maximilliano (with whom Blanca’s mother falls in love) in the world’s first ecological protest march. They peacefully demand better working conditions and the end of toxic gases, which British law had outlawed 30 years before. For economic reasons, the mine management refuses.

Spanish soldiers, sent by the governor who is very loyal to the British mining firm, open fire on the protesters in Riotinto’s Plaza.

Decades later, Blanca and Kathleen, along with the mine owner and his bodyguards, attend a memorial ceremony marking the “year of the shots.”

Awards, Screenings and Release Information:
Heart of the Earth was selected Best Picture at the 2007 L.A. International Film Festival. It was the closing film at The Miami International Film Festival on March 11, 2007, screened at the Drake Film Festival in Italy, was released throughout Spain on April 13, 2007 and played at the Cannes Film market in May 2007. It made its DVD premiere in Greece on Jan. 7, 2008, in Germany June 5 and in the U.K. on Feb. 9, 2009

Critics’ Kudos:
Jonathan Holland, Variety: “Politics and passion unite in time-honored style in Antonio Cuadri’s sweeping historical yarn The Heart of the Earth. Concept is superb — the tragic, real-life 19th-century suppression of a Spanish copper miners’ rebellion by their British employees. Breathtaking scenery and top-notch production values make this a treat. Visually, the pic is pretty much faultless, particularly the stunning aerial shots of the mines.”

Viewers’ Ratings:
As of Feb. 25, 2009, more than 68.8% of viewers who had rated Heart of the Earth at the Internet Movie Database gave it thumbs-up, and 25% rated it a perfect 10. All demographic groups liked it, with women being more enthusiastic than men. The biggest fans were women 18-29, who rated it 8.6 out of 10.

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Antonio Cuadri (Eres mi H�roe, La Gran Vida, Al Salir de Clase, La Buena Voz).

Written by Doc Comparato (Um Anjo Trapalh�o, Encontros Imperfeitos) and Antonio Cuadri (Madre in Japan, Clara, Un Difunto, Seis Mujeres y un Taller). Based on Juan Cobos Wilkins’ bestseller.

Stars Oscar Catalina Sandino Moreno (Fast Food Nation, Love in the Time of Cholera and Paris Je T’aime; Oscar Best Actress nominee for Maria Full of Grace); Phillip Winchester (The Patriot, Flyboys, Thunderbirds); Sienna Guillory (Eragon, The Time Machine, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Late Night Shopping, Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Love, Actually) and Bernard Hill (Gandhi, Gothika, The Scorpion King, The Ghost and the Darkness, True Crime, The Bounty, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shirley Valentine, I Claudius, Mountains of the Moon, Drowning by Numbers; five major awards for two Lord of the Rings films; SAG Award nom for Titanic).

Cast also includes Ana Fernandez (Talk to Her, four Spanish and Belgian major awards for Solas; four Spanish award noms for History of a Kiss and You’re the One); Fernando Ramallo (The Heart of War, Kr�mpack, Seres Queridos; nominated for two major Spanish awards for Carreteras Secundarias); Jorge Perugorria (Guantanamera, Nowhere; won seven major international awards for works including Strawberry and Chocolate, Habana Abierta and Lista de Espera) and Joaquim de Almeida (The Mask of Zorro, Desperado, Good Morning Babylon, Clear and Present Danger, Behind Enemy Lines, Only You, The Honorary Consul; won the Portuguese Best Actor Golden Globe for Tenta��o; nominated for a major Brazilian award for O Xang� de Baker Street as well as for an American SAG Award for TV’s 24).

Executive Producers are Guy Collins (The Osterman Weekend, Night Moves, No Way Home, Clockwatchers and Highlander I, II and III); Luis �ngel Bellaba (Esperando al Mes�as); Emilio A. Pina (Insomnio, Boca a Boca) and Mike Ryan (The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition).

Produced by Juan Carlos Orihuela (Open Graves).

Original Music by Fernando Ort� (Algo para Descongelar, D�as de vino).

Cinematography by Javier G. Salmones (Rottweiler, Shooting Elizabeth; major Spanish award nominations for Romasanta and La Lengua de las Mariposas).

Film Editing by Mer Cantero (Made in China, Palomita M�a, Tocata y Fuga).

Production Design by Luis Manuel Carmona (Madre in Japan).

Costume Design by Margaret Watty (La Gran Vida, S� Qui�n Eres).

Director Quote:
Antonio Cuadri: “I remeber as a kid in the Province of Huelva hearing about these legendary events, because the dead bodies were never found, so it was officially as if this massacre had never happened. When we first screened Heart of the Earth in Rio Tinto, the audience contained descendents of those who had protested against contamination of the mine and the miserable working conditions, and it was very emotional when we showed the massacre scenes. The citizens of the town declared they were present to honor the memory of their murdered ancestors.

“Visually, the Huelva mine is startling. One does not know if one is at a prehistoric site or in the year 2500, after a nuclear war.

“Heart of the Earth reveals an unedited page of our history from 119 years ago and it deals with issues still very relevant today: the conflict between economic interests and quality of life, pollution, colonialism, human rights, and the exploitation of child labor.”

Internet Movie Database entry for Heart of the Earth

Official Site (in English)

Spanish-language review in De Cine 21

Spanish-language trailer at You Tube

Offical Site (in Spanish)