‘It hurts me to say it but the Spanish are a savage insensitive and ignorant people’ says Miguel Ángel Rolland. In his new documentary, the Spanish film-maker has chronicled some of the 16,000 religious festivals across Spain that he says involve the torture of animals.
Every year about 60,000 animals are killed during these festivals – often held in honour of a local saint or the Virgin Mary. Spanish identity is a local rather than a national affair and people are fiercely loyal to their town or village and the customs associated with it.
The best known festival is this week’s running of the bulls during the fiesta of San Fermín in Pamplona. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world flock to the small Navarra town each year for a week of partying that begins each day with six fighting bulls and six oxen being driven through the narrow streets to the bullring – where the bulls are killed in a series of bullfights.
The festival has attracted increasing criticism from animal rights groups – on Saturday activists from Peta staged a protest to draw attention to what they say is a week of fear and death for bulls.
The cruelties documented in Rolland’s film (warning: graphic scenes) include pulling the head off a goose and throwing a live turkey from a church tower – but the most abused animal by far is the bull.