It was August 2009 when we discovered the character of Ermengol Amill, one of the completely forgotten Catalan national heroes. Therefore we felt like we had the moral obligation to create a biopic in order to internationalize the Catalan conflict. A film is the fastest, the most convincing as well as the most efficient way to help overseas citizens understanding the origin of our main national conflict and, much more, to make them come to understand why now Catalans have started their march to independence. We have just managed to write a novel. It has became a bestseller in Catalonia, being in the TOP 10 most sold books since its first publication in September 2012, as well reaching five editions in just five months—so we will persist in the film.
Films like Braveheart in Scotland, Michael Collins in Ireland, or The Patriot in the United States, have helped their nations to stand up for themselves and let the whole world understand their wishes for freedom. From the entertainment and mass culture point of view, as well as a historical and documental review, we thought that this sort of production could turn out as a great cultural and commercial product that would catch the attention all around the world.
Free or dead not only explains what the War for Spanish Succession really meant for Catalans and it lets us understand the magnitude of this war, considered by historians as the first world war. The War of Succession was a conflict incited by the English Crown who provoked Catalans into rising up against King Phillip V of the Bourbon, as well as quashed them down when Lord Bolingbroke announced in the middle of the board of negotiation of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 that defending the rights of the Catalan people was no longer in the interest of England. This treaty radically changed the geopolitics of Europe and America by utilizing the Catalan nation.
The English betrayal that lead to Catalonia's ultimate defeat in 1714 generated a political strifle between the conservatives (Tories) and the liberals (Whigs) in the British Parliament, known as the Case of the Catalans, which left behind feelings of guilt in part of English society, as the pamphlets of the period show, like The Deplorable History of the Catalans, or as the words that a few centuries later were pronounced by former first minister Winston Churchill: “With kind diplomatic words they were delivered (The Catalans) in revenge to the winner side Spain.”
Therefore the relation between England and Catalonia needed and explanation in order to understand that when there are no friends but just interests, freedom is the price. Soon it will be three centuries since the Catalan nation has been paying that price up to the highest. A lesson that we wanted to point out in our novel Free or dead, a title that evokes one of the slogans written down on the black flags displayed above the walls of Barcelona in 1714.
Let’s hope one day we can see the defense of freedom that Free or dead represents in the big screen, and translated into as many languages as possible. Nothing would make us happier than this.