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Film / Santoalla

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Santoalla is a Documentary film by Andrew Becker and Daniel Mehrer.

The documentary is set in the crumbling rural Spanish village of Santa Eulalia, also known as Santoalla, which started becoming deserted in the late 20th century when making a living as a farmer, cobbler, blacksmith, or shepherd became increasingly difficult as the world started to modernize. As a result, people started moving away to find someplace to earn a better living, until only the Rodriguez family, consisting of Manolo, his wife Jovita, and their two sons, Julio and Carlos, were the only people left living there.

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Then, in 1997, Martin Verfondern and Margo Pool, a young couple from Holland, moved to the crumbling town to become organic farmers, away from the bureacracy of city life. He started trying to advocate to restore Santoalla, which put him at odds with both the Rodriguezes, and local politicians, which he attributed to his status as an outsider in the area. This, along with him and Margo getting involved in a long, ugly land dispute in court, resulted in smearing the town's reputation.

Then, on January 11th, 2010, Martin drove into town to do some grocery shopping, and on the way home, he disappeared. Police scoured the countryside for any side of him, to no avail, leaving Margo to try and persevere by herself.

In 2014, life seemed to have returned to normal in Santoalla, until a grisly discovery in June reignited the investigation.

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The documentary was funded on Kickstarter on January 5th, 2015. It was released in theaters on July 11th, 2017.


Santoalla contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: For Margo, her husband disappearing mysteriously on a shopping trip.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Martin's killer, Carlos, confessed to his crime and was arrested, alongside his brother, Julio, who hid and burned Martin's body and car, bringing easement to Margo. However, Julio was barred from coming back to Santoalla, and the scandal lead his parents to move out, leaving Margo as the only person still living there. Basically, now Santoalla has even LESS people living there than before.
  • Dying Town: The titular Santoalla. Martin was trying to restore it, but ran into a lot of difficulty.
  • Feuding Families: Averted at first. Martin and Margo got on quite well with the Rodriguez family when they first moved in. However, when Martin tried to implement more of his ideas to improve Santoalla, the Rodriguezes would basically tell them not to. It eventually got to a point where they refused to speak to each other.
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  • Location Title
  • One-Word Title
  • Travel Montage: The film uses a number of photos taken by Martin and Margo when they were traveling in their camper van as this.

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