A NEW documentary due to be aired in Catalonia tonight chronicles events at a handful of polling stations at last year’s independence referendum – scenes which shocked the world as Guardia Civil officers in riot gear thrashed would-be voters with large batons and fired rubber bullets at them.

The film, named 1-O after the day of the vote – October 1 – will be seen on public broadcaster TV3 which, like some other media outlets, has faced sometimes severe restrictions since Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy ordered the “illegal” vote to be halted.

Written and directed by Lluís Arcarazo and produced by Mediapro, it tells the story of what happened at five of the polling centres on the day that more than two million people tried, peacefully, to cast their ballot on independence.

It starts with images of a person leaving their home with a ballot box which had been hidden. The film then jumps to a polling station just before it opens.

People had spent the night inside many of them in a bid to ensure that they and other citizens would be allowed to make their choice.

Speaking exclusively to The National, Arcarazo said no politicians were interviewed for the programme, because he wanted to let viewers experience the happiness and hear the hopes of ordinary voters.

“The idea in the beginning was to comment on what was going to happen on polling day because the central government had forbidden the vote, but on the day before it we can see how the population of Catalonia was mobilised to protect the polls at the stations.

“People were celebrating this popular movement and they were organised to reach their goal [of voting] because thousands of people had stayed in schools the night before to protect the polling stations because the police wanted to close them.

“From five in the morning people gathered in the polling stations to defend them.

“We wanted to reflect this because, after all the detentions of the leadership and politicians and the new election, maybe it can make people forget this terrible day for politicians and for them.

“It was a very emotional day.”

He added: “It was very political and people were very concentrated and there was plenty of emotion.

“Also violence, but also happiness and also hope and I don’t want to make a documentary about the violence – that was a factor of the day.

“The answer of the people was the other side of the violence and we wanted to show how the people were able to defend their right to vote.”

The writer/director was at the polling station in Sant Julià de Ramis, where the then Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was due to vote, and captured the arrival there of the Spanish Civil Guard. His cameras filmed the swoop by security forces and the frantic, efforts of volunteers – ultimately in vain – to hide the ballot boxes.

All the developments of the day are covered in 1-O, from the practical difficulties of preparing polling stations for the vote to go ahead; problems with official documentation showing where people should have been voting and the failure – or perhaps sabotage – of computer systems.

Volunteers took on all the roles, staffing the centres, directing people, watching for the civil guard and troubleshooting the computers.

There is also an interview with Roger Español, who tells how he lost the vision of one eye after being hit by a rubber bullet – one of the incidents that caused worldwide revulsion.

He has not been able to identify his assailant, but says he hopes he will be the last person to be injured by such weaponry fired by Spanish state forces.

Arcarazo said TV3 was the only channel in Catalonia that told things as they happened, regardless of government pressure.

“TV3 is the only station that tells things the way they are happening. The rest of the stations give a different version talking about the violent population and that is a lie.

“The Catalan population is peaceful and the police behaviour was terrible.”

And he’s hoping that 1-O will manage to get a wider audience sometime in the future.

“I hope so. We are showing the film at festivals and we are talking with another broadcaster but I don’t know at the moment.

“I hope – maybe in Scotland? We won’t be able to show it in Spain, that’s for sure.”