MediaNet Members Talk – Tom Shandel

THE SPANISH EARTH, 1937, EXAMINED – Tom Shandel talks at MediaNet about his Documentary in Production.


Tom says “I’m producing a documentary on arguably the first film documentary ever consciously designed to change public opinion in the United States about supporting democracy in a far off country. DIGGING SPANISH EARTH is a feature length documentary focusing on the civil war in Spain when a Republican Government of Liberals, Socialists, & Anarchists was elected in the ’36 and began to pull Spain out of the 19th century by bringing in education reform, land redistribution & improved labour and union reforms and most significantly, challenging the power and clawing back the finances of the Catholic Church. Predictably, the establishment, led by the Church, the aristocracy and landowners rebelled and led my most of the existing military fought back in a military uprising. The Spanish civil war started in 1936 until 1939 and became the match which lit the firestorm Hitler and Mussolinni unleashed on Europe starting WWII. It’s a big deal which our school history lessons usually ignore because we, the USA, Canada, France, UK etc, not only allowed it to happen, but actually supported the Fascists cause with money and weapons. The backstory has to do with the Russian Revolution and the capitalist/Vatican fears of Communist takeovers moving into central Europe and the Americas. Also, remember this is still the Depression and we have vast legions of unemployed everywhere willing to challenge the ruling elites for their own opportunities. Our “capitalist” governments feared huge numbers of their own people. Our documentary is about the making of THE SPANISH EARTH by Joris Ivens & Ernest Hemingway and supported many American, Canadian and European intellectuals and writers who used their own money to help the Republican cause by either joining the International Brigades to fight in Spain when their own Governments refused or by supporting those who did. It is a maddening story but one that has repeated itself again and again. Corporate evil at work then, as often now, as The Corporation documentary which I developed and co-produced reveals.”