Every year, thousands of immigrants inexorably beach on the Spanish coasts. At times it’s like they’ve always been there, as if they were part of some strange rites of spring, irrevocably doomed to be washed up on the shores of my land. Nameless faces haunting my thoughts… How to film people who are afraid to be seen? How to tell their stories when all they want is to forget?

Director's statement

Oriol Canals

The silent hecatomb

Barcelona, one day in June 2000. Once again feeling slightly apprehensive as I turn on the television to watch the news. I have already heard that two boats have been wrecked off the coast, an increasingly regular occurrence, and that precious few passengers survived.

ACID support text for Cannes 2009

The strength and originality of Sombras (Letters from the Shadows) is that it gives a voice to illegal immigrants as they tell their stories, full face, to their families back in Africa. These audiovisual letters home form the structure of the film. Scraps of shattered lives. A brief journey from the shadows into the light. Catharsis. Speaking directly to us, looking us in the eye, they hold up a mirror to whatever is left of our humanity.
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