In November 1936, in the middle of the Spanish Civil War, while the Fascists are advancing on Madrid, the evacuation of paintings from the Prado Museum begins. Manuel (Gabino Diego), a twenty-eight-year old security guard, finds a self-portrait of Goya abandoned in one corner.
As the bombs are already falling on the city, Manuel escapes from the Museum with the painting hidden under his clothes. His intention is to protect the artwork from possible damage.
The rest of the story is about Manuel's personal struggle to preserve the masterpiece from the destruction of war and how he is helped by a young woman and her grandfather along the way. La Hora de los Valientes (A Time for Defiance) was screened at the 1999 Montreal World Film Festival.