This fragment from the original script of “The young and the damned” by Luis Buñuel (1950), is a starting point and reference for the great problem surrounding the world of social exclusion. There where the town vanishes, there where urban life breaks up, mingling with the industrial belts, the landscape or traffic thoroughfares, is where we can often find smaller or larger scale settlements, where mere subsisting becomes a daily objective.
Living accommodation in infra-basic, unhealthy conditions, a lack of town services, delinquency, unemployment, social exclusion … in places like these, are the ingredients that often go hand in hand. Although the circumstances vary depending on the case, once accommodated in a marginal settlement, all the inhabitants have to face the same problems and the same deficiencies. This documentary deals with how people go about their lives in a settlement and how they approach the future, the education of their children or personal relationships.
Penamoa has been part of the background history of A Coruña, located in the far northwest of Spain. Since the eighties, the press has labelled it as the “Greatest Drug Supermarket on the Cantabrian coast”. It is strategically positioned in the built environment of the town so it is impossible to be seen. This settlement is placed along a hillside and divided into three differentiated cores along half a kilometre road. Penamoa is invisible from the town, although its renown identifies it with gypsies, social exclusion and drugs.
In this documentary, beset by social pressure, the inhabitants of Penamoa show us their faces and houses, openly talking to us of their reality. A reality that nobody wants, the majority have lived in the settlement since they were small, they have seen their elderly folk die and their children born there. Their testimonies echo a way of living that cannot leave us indifferent, a life that we trust society will be able to eradicate.
In October 2007 the Town Council of A Coruña initiated the dismantling of the settlement with a bold statement against it from the people of A Coruña. On the verge of leaving these living conditions behind, on a white background, decontextualized from their surroundings, the gypsies tell us about their past, about their childhood in the settlement, about their problems with bringing up their children… and also about how they imagine the world to which they are heading, a world that we know because it is ours.
The asepsis of this confessional facilitates the analysis of the process of social inclusion. Aside from being a didactic activity put in place with the smaller ones, we can see its main value for the future – education. There where the elderly and the young receive the help they call on society for, on which all their hopes are pinned for the future..