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Celebrity, Diplomacy, Documentary:Javier Bardem and Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony


This article examines the ways in which Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony, the 2012 documentary directed by the Spanish filmmaker Álvaro Longoria and produced by the Spanish actor Javier Bardem, makes use of celebrity activism and diplomacy in order to reach an international audience and directly pressure the United Nations to intervene in what the film frames primarily as a question of human rights and freedom from oppression. Despite Senator Edward Kennedy’s sympathy to the Sahrawi cause and the attention devoted to it by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, it was a little-known issue in the U.S. before Bardem began to talk about it on a variety of talk and news shows while promoting the James Bond thriller Skyfall (2012). Michael Renov has argued that, although we generally think of documentary in terms of social activism and the discourses of sobriety, desire and the unconscious may play an important role in this genre as well. In this case, Bardem’s ‘sex appeal’ draws viewers to his viewpoint, and his considerable fame within the English-speaking media world, in which actors are expected to share personal tidbits as they pitch their latest projects, gives him a platform to present this issue as an extension of his charming persona.

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