Documentary - Development 2015

This is the story of a man whose life was marked by an unhealthy relation with money. He accumulated a huge fortune and, in order to maintain it, he lived as a poor. But at the end of his life, he gave all this fortune to the very same society which, for more than 50 years, he had kept in the dark

    • Year of production
    • 2015
    • Genres
    • Documentary, Biography, First film
    • Countries
    • Duration
    • 82 mn
    • Synopsis
    • Only a man can explain all the truth about Joan Riera Gubau: who devoted his life to accumulate more and more money, evading it systematically to American and European banks. This person was his right hand for more than 40 years, Jeroni Buxadé, who has captured his experiences with Riera in his memoirs, unpublished by now.

      On the other end of the story, two girls can explain how the fortune accumulated by Riera Gubau has allowed them, at least, to give an unexpected and radical twist to their lives. Thanks to the money Riera left, these two girls (Núria Ferragutcasas and Rosanna Anson) have established professionally in the United States. But the story of Joan Riera shows that not even all the money in the world is enough to buy society's recognition. Asking about him in his home town, Santa Coloma de Farners (Girona), produces answers ranging from indifference to sarcasm, but never something like praise.

      Joan Riera Gubau started a sock factory in the 1940s in Santa Coloma de Farners. He named it Yanki, because he loved America, a continent he visited every year for two or three months (he established for many years in Venezuela where the legend that runs through his hometown says he found oil) and where he brought many bundles of the bank notes his company produced. He never spent this money while he was alive, he never owned anything that could remotely seem luxurious, neither incurred he in any expense that was not necessary. Up to the point that he lived in an old house from his parents with no commodity at all. He did not even have a shower.

      At the end of his life, with no wife and no kids, he made his will and left all his fortune to Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government). His fortune was so well hidden that the Catalan government needed six years to find where and how huge it was: in 2004 the Catalan government announced that the fortune was 43 million dollars deposited in banks of the Cayman Islands. But the businessman will also included a last will: that the money was used to promote the study of English language among the youth of his town. A refund to the society of what he previously evaded through tax evasion. But this refund was poisoned, because it was a way to keep his few family (a nephew) away from the money. It was expected from someone who always had personal relations issues (with family, friends...) because of the money.

      Joan Riera expected this late philanthropic gesture would earn him his town admiration. In his last years, he always repeated: "When I'm dead, I'll be better known than in life". But the truth is that the businessman's name is not more recognized now than when he was alive. And his figure is, really, uncomfortable in his town. Being the most generous individual donor that the Catalan Government has ever seen is not enough to earn the appreciation of the people, because this (the admiration, the appreciation, the recognition...) is priceless.
    • Partners & financing
    • Televisió de Catalunya - 30.000 €
      Produccions El Videocassette - 15.000 €
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Mar 01, 2015
    • End of shooting
    • Dec 30, 2015
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