The Post goes to Ronda…

The Pamplona Post will be spending the weekend in Ronda at the Feria de Pedro Romero with the great-grandson of its founder, the matador Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez. His ancestor, the matador Cayetano Ordóñez, arranged the first fair – and its bullfight in the traditional costumes of bullfighters from the paintings of Francisco Goya, called a corrida goyesca – in 1954, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Pedro Romero, the first modern matador.

Ernest Hemingway and Antonio Ordóñez

Cayetano senior appears, thinly fictionalised under the name Pedro Romero, in Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises, published in the UK under the earlier, draft title, Fiesta. (An even earlier title, when it was a short story, was ‘Cayetano Ordóñez’.) His son Antonio, also a matador who fought in that first corrida goyesca, became great friends with Hemingway and he is the centre of his non-fiction book The Dangerous Summer. Antonio Ordóñez’s other great friend, who also helped raise the international profile of the feria, was the man who wrote, produced, directed and starred in perhaps the greatest film ever made, Citizen Kane, Orson Welles.

Antonio Ordóñez, Orson Welles & the taurine photographer Paco Cano in Pamplona in 1961

So I am heading out now to the Ordóñez’ ranch, where Welles’s ashes are interred, to accompany Cayetano as he prepares to get into the arena. For a full account of all that that entails, read chapter 16 of my book Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight where I talk about spending a similar such weekend with Cayetano in ’09. The book can be purchased in any major British bookshop or on Amazon UK here. The reviews have been amazing, and can be read here.

Alexander Fiske-Harrison and Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez (Photo: Nicolas Háro)

However, this time I have another focus: making a documentary about the world of the bulls, feature length, for cinematic release, with an Oscar-winning produce, an award-winning young documentary director, a Hollywood director of photography, and me as writer, co-producer, and for this Saturday, camera co-ordinator in the alleyway around the ring, the callejón. Apparently the police will not issue a permit which does not include a space in a protected hide, a burladero, to anyone who is not a bullfighter in case a bull jumps the fence into it. And since I trained as a bullfighter to write Into The Arena, that’s me…

More updates to follow…

Alexander Fiske-Harrison

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