Another fine mess for Port Stanley

In 1999 an Argentinian film crew went undercover in the Falklands to shoot a movie. For director José Luis Marqués, the trouble started at Customs...
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The Independent Culture

I thought of a story about an Argentinian who wants to conquer the Falkland Islands for the second time. He decides to populate the Islands with Argentinian children who in the future would be a majority and therefore vote in favour of Argentinian sovereignty...

I thought of a story about an Argentinian who wants to conquer the Falkland Islands for the second time. He decides to populate the Islands with Argentinian children who in the future would be a majority and therefore vote in favour of Argentinian sovereignty...

Fuckland, as the film came to be called, was undercover in all aspects: in format, because people could not know they were being filmed; and in the story itself, as it took place in Malvinas, where the Argentinians are considered "the enemy". Argentinians need no special requirements to travel to Malvinas, not even a visa. We were warned that at Mount Pleasant we would be questioned at length. The whole thing frightened us because we knew we had to lie.

The journey itself to the Falklands was long and tiring. As I observed the rest of the passengers, I felt like a secret agent on my way to an impossible mission. On the plane, the project was started: we could not talk to each other and every one of us had to start playing their fictional role. When the unmistakable outline of the Islands showed through the window, I was overcome by a strange feeling of enthusiasm. I could recognise the distinct geography, deeply rooted inside my memory of school maps. Our first surprise was the greeting at Mount Pleasant. Standing on the luggage carousel, two soldiers gave us instructions and warned us of the dangers in areas mined by the Argentinians during the war. This was the first sign that labelled us as the enemy. It strongly influenced all of us.At Customs, a civilian officer took my passport, looked at it and then handed it to a soldier, who grinned at the sight of the Malvinas map on the back of the passport showing the Islands as part of our Argentinian National Territory. They looked at me again, mocking me.

The first step was to get acquainted with the territory. The second step, was for the lead actor, Fabián Stratas to search for women, the ultimate step being "the conquest". The only instruction I gave was that it was absolutely forbidden to confront the Islanders. The idea was not to reveal the Islanders, but to reveal certain Argentinian attitudes.

The film crew developed a system of clandestine night meetings. One of us would let the rest of the group into their hotel room, making sure nobody had seen anything. There, I looked at the dailies and discussed (in a low voice) our steps for the next day. If something unexpected changed our plans, I rewrote certain ideas which I handed out on small pieces of paper at breakfast the following morning.

Even though the Falklands War was not the subject of the film, we all ended up touring the battle fields. The conditions in which our soldiers had fought were as poor and distressing as the landscape. Some tourists consider the battle fields as the highlight of their visit. This commercial aspect created a feeling of anger towards the Islanders in Fabián. Such feeling finally fitted perfectly well in the story.

The treatment we received from the Islanders was polite. But we could feel they did not trust us. One evening at the pub, Fabián had a friendly talk with a local guy. After a couple of beers and a lot of laughs, the Falklander told him he had fought in the war against Argentina and made it clear he would fight a war again if necessary.

Before visiting Malvinas, we had imagined a typical small rural town. We were surprised that many cosmopolitan features were present in the Islands' capital, Port Stanley: Dutch people, Polynesians, even some individuals from other British colonies. It also became clear that severe cases of alcoholism and sexual promiscuity hide under the community's orderly appearance.

I had arrived in Malvinas with a sceptical opinion regarding the sovereignty issue. But, as time passed, I realised that for the Islanders the war was the foundation on which they were able to start developing: the economic support given by Britain; the creation of their own constitution and the settlement of a military base with the same number of soldiers as the rest of the Islands. The war, which I believed to be absurd,was the the most important event in the Islanders' history.

'Fuckland' will be screened at the London Film Festival on Wed at 9pm and Fri at 6.30 pm (020 7928 3232 for box office and venue)

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