For the last week, in small villages dotted along the foot of the Sierra Nevada range in Andalusia, news of the imminent shooting of a film in the area has attracted hundreds of local unemployed people who are seeking work as extras.
Based on a novel written by a doctor, Paula Farias, who has worked on humanitarian missions in the Balkan conflict, the film is set in Kosovo – but the Spanish province of Granada, with its snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains and whitewashed villages, apparently looks similar enough to the former Yugoslavia to be selected for three months of shooting.
Whether rumours that Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins will be the film’s stars are true or not, leaflets requesting extras “aged from two to 85” have brought a massive local response. In the village of La Zubia on Thursday, policemen were forced to hunt for more barriers, as nearly 1,000 would-be extras – some arriving at 6am – lined up outside the cultural centre for a brief interview and a promise that the lucky ones who had been selected would be contacted within 15 days.
An explanation for the huge outbreak of enthusiasm in the Granada region for film-making, and willingness to wait in some cases until well after 10pm to be registered, is not hard to find: Spain’s mass unemployment.
Other films in Spain have paid around ¤30 and a couple of sandwiches for a day’s work as an extra; with the unemployment rate in Andalusia currently at 35 per cent, for many that would be an almost irresistible offer.