Garbo, the Spy

About This Project

Synopsis

This is the story about “the greatest actor in the world”.

On the stage that is life he made his unique contribution
to the good of mankind.

He went by many names, yet never existed.
He lived many lives, yet only one was real.

In the darkest time in the history of humanity he perpetrated the greatest fraud of the Second World War -fooling the German High Command into believing that the Normandy landings were just a diversionary feint, and that the real invasion would take place in the Pas de Calais.

Self-made farm manager and later hotel concierge, he had offered his services to the British to “help them out” -but his naïve plan had failed. Far from being discouraged, he turned to the Germans and managed to convince them that he could spy for the Nazi cause. Surprisingly, they took him on.

To the Nazis he was codenamed Alaric.
To the British he was simply Garbo.
To the world he was a mystery.

30 years after the facts and fiction, the cloak of mystery that kept him hidden and tied to Alaric and Garbo finally started to unravel. Nigel West, noted English Spy novelist, started out on a journey to expose the truth about the man born Juan Pujol and uncovered a story so amazing that it could only be true. The man who the world thought to be dead and buried in Angola in 1949, a man that died a hero to both the British and the Nazis, looked pretty spry when discovered in South America 35 years after his burial.

This is the story of Garbo.

 

Cast & Crew
Cast
NIGEL WEST
MARK SEAMAN
XAVIER VINADER
ALINE GRIFFITH
STAN VRANCKX
JUAN KREISLER
JOAN MIQUEL PUJOL
JOSÉ ANTONIO ESCORIZA y JOAN PUJOL GARCÍA
Crew
Director EDMON ROCH
Screenplay by EDMON ROCH, ISAKI LACUESTA, MARÍA HERVERA
Producers EDMON ROCH, SANDRA HERMIDA, BELÉN BERNUY
Associate Producers VICTORIA BORRÁS, ALEXANDER ADAMS, PATRICIA RUIZ TAKATA
Delegate Producer TVC JORDI AMBRÒS
Director of Photography BET ROURICH, GABRIEL GUERRA, JOACHIM BERGAMIN
Editor ALEXANDER ADAMS
Original Music FERNANDO VELÁZQUEZ
Sound Design ORIOL TARRAGÓ
Visual Effects LLUÍS CASTELLS
Music Supervisor ALEXANDER ADAMS
Head of Archives PATRICIA RUIZ TAKATA
Production Notes
Year: 2009
Country: España
Genre: Documental
Format: 1: 1/85
Runtime: 88 mins.
Sound: Dolby Stereo Digital
Language: Inglés, Español, Catalán, Alemán
Release Date: 4 Diciembre 2009
Produced by: IKIRU FILMS, COLOSÉ PRODUCCIONES, CENTURIA FILMS
In association with: TELEVISIÓ DE CATALUNYA, OLEK FILM
With the participation of: TELEVISIÓN ESPAÑOLA, TELEVISIÓ DE CATALUNYA
With the collaboration of: ICAA, ICIC
With the support of: ICO, ICF
Distributed by: GUMMO FILMS
International Sales: THE FILM SALES COMPANY
Reviews

Allen Johnson, SF Chronicle
“Ingenious, inventive, magnificent!”

Kyle Smith, New York Post
“Fascinating!”

Rachel Saltz, New York Times
“Edmon Roch has a great story to tell in Garbo the Spy, and he recounts it with the flair of a Hollywood spy movie: Garbo is dramatic, entertaining, even funny.”

Keith Uhlich, Time Out NY
“Compelling, poetic!”

Andrew Roberts, The Daily Beast
Garbo the Spy, the best documentary on World War II espionage to be released in cinemas in more than a decade.”

Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times
“Nothing less than fascinating. An extraordinary double agent is at the center of this artful documentary. Smart, evocative, compelling and fittingly inventive.”

Noel Murray, AV Club
“Unusual and bold…Garcia’s story is a doozy!”

Cole Smithey
“Wildly entertaining…Stop reading this review now and get thee to the cinema! You will not be disappointed!”

Karina Longworth, Village Voice
“Playfully scrambling documentary tropes, Roch uses judiciously chosen clips from Hollywood films (The Stranger, Patton, and, of course, Mata Hari) to tell the story of real events in which Pujol was involved, and creates a dialogue between the fictions Pujol created to help win the war and the fictions Hollywood created to memorialize that victory.”

Jennifer Merin, About.com
Garbo is better than Mata Hari …Wonderfully entertaining…a real life spy thriller. Roch engages his audience fully in the intrigue, creating an aura of suspense and an ambiance of uncertainty even about things that we already know. That’s what makes this documentary such a treat.”

Armond White, City Arts
“It is one of the cleverest political documentaries ever made…Director Edmon Roch understands how history and politics often come to us through romantic supposition…Through layers of fiction, Roch inquires about the historicity of film…exploring the mythology of espionage and penetrating the mystery of heroism…creating a brilliant, instructive analysis of how history becomes legend.”

Jonathan Holland, Variety
“…Garbo is a compelling, gracefully told account of an extraordinary Spanish double agent during WWII who helped change the course of history (…) [Edmon Roch] creates a dazzling mixture of feature film and archival footage, interviews and music, which beautifully underscores the docu’s theme of the shifting border between truth and falsehood (…) Spain’s hottest docu in years…”

Francesc-Marc Álvaro, La Vanguardia
“…Edmon Roch hooks us from the very start with the adventures of the Catalonian Juan Pujol (…) It brilliantly combines testimonies with fragments of classic war films and spy movies, and never falters (…) In Garbo’s suitcase, we find fiction that leads to the truth, chance encounters that turn into powerful strategies, silences that speak louder than words, along with the encrypted ciphers that shed a light on this historical period (…) I highly recommend to storm the movie theatres to enjoy this small jewel of a film…”

E. Rodríguez Marchante, ABC
“…What a great character, this Garbo, the man who saved the world, a spy who managed to fool the Third Reich without barely leaving the confines of a room (…) What a great brainteaser, worthy of Houdini (…) What a great idea to let cinema itself narrate or suggest the story (…) It’s rare to come across a perfect story told in such a perfect way.”

Salvador Llopart, La Vanguardia
“…At times, it seems like pure comedy, rising up to the level of a film like Lubitch’s To be or not to be (…) Facts are underlined, contrasted and emphasized by fragments of films – and how well chosen they are!  How well edited!  (…) There is much cinema in Garbo, of the good kind, the kind that knows a story must be revealed in dosages to achieve a multiplying effect…”

Pere Vall, Fotogramas
“…A different take on history, making it officially entertaining and attractive (…) The director turns to the history of film and other carefully studied reference points and places them with exact precision in order to make the game more passionate  (…) It’s both fun and educational in equal measure… ”

 

Festivals & Awards
Festival-de-Cine-Europeo-de-Sevilla_reference GOLDEN GIRALDILLO BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM
Seville European Film Festival,
6th edition (2009)
logo-pie GOYA BEST DOCUMENTARY
Spanish Film Academy’s Goya Awards,
24th edition (2010)
gaudi-logo1 GAUDÍ BEST DOCUMENTARY GAUDÍ BEST SCREENPLAY
Gaudí Awards, 2nd edition (2010)
 premiosGRIS-rojo-HORIZONTAL ALMA BEST SCREENPLAY FOR A DOCUMENTARY
Spanish Screenplay Writers Union’s Alma Awards,
1st edition (2011)
logo_idfa-450x315_01 FINALIST BEST FIRST APPEARANCE
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam,
22nd edition (2009)
festival-internacional-de-cine-de-karlovy-vary-1999 VARIETY CRITIC’S CHOICE
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival,
45th edition (2010)
More than 20 Official Selections in International Film Festivals such as Rome, San Francisco, Seattle, Annecy, Belgrad, Planet Doc Review Varsovia, Cleveland, Durham, Mexico, Montreal, Melbourne, Vancouver, Manila, Toulouse…amongst others.
Gallery

 

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