Create a new party and become a country's third political force in less than two years? It's possible. To find out how, you must see Política, Manual de Instrucciones (Politics, Instruction Manual) by director Fernando León de Aranoa.
The economic crisis, high levels of unemployment, evictions. It's 2012 and Spain is on the brink of an abyss. Traditional political parties have run out of steam following years of extravagance and there is huge disenchantment among the population. This is the breeding ground for Podemos: a force of the new left comprised of grassroots movements that aspire to reach great heights.
Narrated as a countdown to the general elections, Política, Manual de Instrucciones, is precisely that: an open instruction manual on how to create a party from scratch. And after seeing the film, it is clear that the process is considerably more difficult than assembling Ikea's worst possible piece of furniture.
The camera sneaks into all the decision-making processes and makes the viewer a witness to its first steps as a party: its founding, the election of the General Secretary and the inauguration of its Madrid headquarters, as well as critical moments such as leaders' resignations or its first electoral thrashing.
Fernando León de Aranoa entered the film in the Berlinale's Panorama section and brilliantly describes this particular case in Spain, which showed it is possible to move from protest to organisation and political representation, and furthermore to do it in a remarkable fashion.
From a technical point of view, one of the film's highlights is its fine camera work, as in true fly-on-the-wall style it makes viewers feel as though they are almost taking part in the party's meetings. The playwriting too is outstanding, with the euphoria of the party's creation, its first crisis and finally election day as the film's denouement. León de Aranoa thus traces a journey of barely two years in the political history of Podemos, keeping viewers constantly on the edge of their seats.
But the party is currently very different from what is shown in the film. Podemos is now ensnared in a major internal crisis. Its voters, rank and file and the viewers of Política, Manual de Instrucciones will certainly keep track of this party, as if watching a sequel to the film.