Free Documentaries from Spain Let You Watch the Traditional Making of Wine, Cheese, Churros, Honey & More

The Span­ish film­mak­er Euge­nio Mon­es­ma has ded­i­cat­ed his life to cap­tur­ing the tra­di­tions of his home­land and its sur­round­ing areas. He began his career by first tak­ing up a Super‑8 cam­era at age 25 back in the nine­teen-sev­en­ties, and in the decades since, his mis­sion has tak­en him to the fur­thest cor­ners of Spain and beyond in search of ever-old­er ways to pre­serve in detail. This places his work in the tra­di­tion of the anthro­po­log­i­cal or ethno­graph­ic doc­u­men­tary. But in a still-uncon­ven­tion­al move in his field, he’s unit­ed the old with the new by cre­at­ing his own Youtube chan­nel on which to make his doc­u­men­taries free to watch around the world.

Launched in 2020, Mon­es­ma’s chan­nel has become a sur­pris­ing hit. At the top of the post you can watch its most pop­u­lar video, his short 1997 doc­u­men­tary on the mak­ing of combs from ani­mal horns — which, as of this writ­ing, has racked up near­ly 8.5 mil­lion views. This hap­pens to be one of the pro­duc­tions that took him beyond Spain’s bor­ders, if only just: to the French vil­lage of Lespar­rou, specif­i­cal­ly, which main­tained its small horn comb fac­to­ries until the end of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.

Their process is nar­rat­ed in the immac­u­late Span­ish dic­tion of Mon­es­ma him­self, but you can also take your pick of sub­ti­tles in more than a dozen oth­er lan­guages. Oth­er of his doc­u­men­taries that have become pop­u­lar on Youtube include doc­u­men­taries on the tra­di­tion­al mak­ing of cheesesilk, wine, pot­tery, hon­ey and wax, knives, and leather.

Many of these videos run under twen­ty min­utes; some reach near­ly fea­ture length. All of them sat­is­fy a desire, which now seems wide­ly felt among view­ers of Youtube, to wit­ness thor­ough­ly ana­log process­es that have been in use, chang­ing and evolv­ing only grad­u­al­ly, for long stretch­es of his­to­ry.

And the fact that the things made so often look deli­cious cer­tain­ly does­n’t make Mon­es­ma’s work less com­pelling: take, for exam­ple, the arti­sanal chur­ros of Pam­plon­a’s Chur­rería de la Mañue­ta, whose appeal is sure­ly uni­ver­sal. In Korea, where I live, the past decade has a fad for chur­ros elab­o­rate­ly coat­ed and topped with col­ors and fla­vors unknown to tra­di­tion, and I’d be lying if I said I was­n’t curi­ous what Mon­es­ma would have to say about it.

Relat­ed con­tent:

20 Mes­mer­iz­ing Videos of Japan­ese Arti­sans Cre­at­ing Tra­di­tion­al Hand­i­crafts

How Kore­an Things Are Made: Watch Mes­mer­iz­ing Videos Show­ing the Mak­ing of Tra­di­tion­al Clothes, Teapots, Bud­dhist Instru­ments & More

A 13th-Cen­tu­ry Cook­book Fea­tur­ing 475 Recipes from Moor­ish Spain Gets Pub­lished in a New Trans­lat­ed Edi­tion

The Roman Roads of Spain & Por­tu­gal Visu­al­ized as a Sub­way Map: Ancient His­to­ry Meets Mod­ern Graph­ic Design

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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