Fifteen feature films, world premieres at the Festival, will compete for the Irizar Award
Zinemira will open with ‘Mudar la piel’ and close with ‘Black is Beltza’
Ramón Agirre will collect the Zinemira Award at the Basque Film Gala, to include the screening of ‘Jainkoak ez dit barkatzen’
The 66th edition of the San Sebastian Festival will host more Basque productions than ever, twenty films distributed between the Official Selection, the New Directors, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, Perlak, Culinary Zinema and Zinemira sections, and the Basque film and EiTB galas.
Zinemira, the section specifically dedicated to Basque cinema, comes with twelve productions including fiction and non-fiction, animation, first works and films by moviemakers of long standing.
Zinemira will open with Mudar la piel (The Spy Within), the film by Ana Schulz and Cristobal Fernández, premiered in the official section of the Locarno Festival out of competition, following the friendship between Juan Gutiérrez, a mediator between the Basque Government and ETA, and Roberto Flórez, a former CNI (National Intelligence Centre) agent convicted for treason.
And it will close with Black is Beltza, directed by the musician, director and producer Fermin Muguruza (Irún, 1963). The graphic novel Black is Beltza is brought to life on the big screen through the animated film directed by Muguruza, whose previous films at the Festival are Checkpoint Rock: Canciones desde Palestina (Checkpoint Rock: Songs from Palestine, Zinemira, 2009), Next Music Station (Zinemira, 2011), Zuloak (Zabaltegi, 2012) and Nola? (Zinemira, 2016). The voices in Black is Beltza are provided by Unax Ugalde, Emma Suárez, Sergi López, Maria de Medeiros, Óscar Jaenada, Ramón Barea, Ramón Agirre, Jorge Perugorría and Rossy De Palma, among others.
Among the different films, spectators, journalists and film industry professionals will have the opportunity to discover another ten productions premiered at the Festival, such as La noche nos lleva, third film by David González Rudiez (Bilbao, 1980), whose short films have featured on the Kimuak programme five times. The focal point of La noche nos lleva (The Night Take Us)is a former professional basketball player embodied by Carlos Algaba.
Joaquín Calderón (Pamplona, 1968) won the Audience Award at the Documenta Madrid Festival with his first work Sáhara no se vende. Calderón, backed by a career as an actor spanning two decades, bases his story in Basque Selfie on the loss of his family farmhouse by the musician Agus Barandiaran.
Following his first work, La noche del ratón, presented at international festivals, in his native city David Rodríguez Losada (San Sebastián, 1981) will release his second feature film, Lady Off, in which he chronicles the rehearsals of a theatre company in Madrid as they work on a scene from Richard III.
Juanmi Gutiérrez (Errenteria, 1945) has made more than ten non-fictional feature films, most of which have been presented at the Festival. This time, in Baúles (Chests), he tells the tale of a man from a village in the mountains of León who leaves for Mexico without saying a word to his family.
The first work by the journalist and musician Oier Aranzabal (Bilbao, 1988), Margolaria / The Painter, studies the keys of the creation process through the voyage undertaken by the singer Mikel Urdangarin to collect a work from the artist Alain Urrutia.
Also making his feature film debut is the artist Txuspo Poyo (Alsasua, 1963), which explores in Izaro the identity, history and legacy of the island sitting between Bermeo and Mundaka.
Antonio Díaz Huerta, director of television series such as El internado and Luna, el misterio de Calenda, also takes his first steps in film directing with Gallo, one of the projects selected for the XII Lau Haizetara Documentary Co-Production Forum (El amanecer de gallo, 2016). The film focusses on a surfer who must relive the accident that left him blind to overcome his fears.
The collective film Gure oroitzapenak portrays the multifaceted universe of Joseba Sarrionandia through the eyes of twelve filmmakers: Oskar Alegría, Özcan Alper, Asier Altuna, Mireia Gabilondo, Eugène Green, Itziar Leemans, Ane Muñoz, Maider Oleaga, Carlos Machado and Maialen Sarasua, as well as those of Josu Martinez and Fermin Muguruza, whose participation in this year’s Festival will be twofold.
Rounding off the selection is Errementari (Errementari: El herrero y el diablo / Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil), the first work by Paul Urkijo (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1984), which, following its premiere at Sitges, won the Audience Award at the San Sebastian Horror Film Festival, and Bajo la piel del lobo, the first feature film as a screenwriter and director from Samuel Fuentes (Noreña, Asturias, 1972), who has worked on the directing and production teams of films such as El secreto de Marrowbone (Marrowbone, Official Selection 2017) or Vicky, Cristina Barcelona(Zabaltegi-Pearls 2008). Bajo la piel del lobo (The Skin of the Wolf), which premiered at the Seville European Film Festival, has as its protagonist a solitary trapper embodied by Mario Casas, accompanied on the cast by Irene Escolar and Ruth Díaz.
The Basque Film Gala, to take place in the Victoria Eugenia Theatre on September 25, will include the premiere of Jainkoak ez dit barkatzen / God Doesn’t Forgive Me, by Josu Martinez (Bilbao, 1986), telling the story of Lezo Urreiztieta, an 18th century pirate born by mistake in 1907. The EiTB Gala, to take place on the same stage on the 26th, will see the screening of the film Vitoria, 3 de marzo, directed by Víctor Cabaco (Santander, 1967), whose first feature recreates the events that shook the Basque capital in 1976, when five workers were shot dead by the Police.
Following Loreak (Flowers, 2014), Amama (2015) and Handia (Giant, 2017), this year’s Official Selection will once again feature a Basque production shot in the Basque language. The special screenings section will include the latest work by Telmo Esnal, Dantza, winner of the Glocal in Progress Industry Award at the first edition of the industry activity for European productions in non-hegemonic languages. This is the first time that Esnal (Zarautz, 1966) will have participated in the Official Selection, after the selection for the New Directors section of Aupa Etxebeste! (2005), co-directed with Asier Altuna, winner of the Youth Award, and Urte berri on, amona! (Happy New Year Grandma!, 2009).
Koldo Almandoz (San Sebastián, 1973) presented his first short film, Razielen itzulera, in 1997 at the Festival, in Zabaltegi, the section where, two decades later, he presented his first feature film, Sipo Phantasma (Ghost Ship), following its premiere at the Rotterdam Festival. Oreina (The Deer), his second feature, which will compete for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award, is set in outlying industrial estates.
Maddi Barber (Pamplona, 1988) will compete for the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award with her short film 592 metroz goiti (Above 592 Metres), taking its inspiration from the effects of having built the Itoiz dam. This short film is part of the Kimuak selection of the year.
A Basque production will compete for the City of Donostia / San Sebastian Audience Award: Un día más con vida / Another Day of Life, directed by Raúl de la Fuente (Pamplona, 1974) and Damian Nenow (Bydgoszcz, Poland, 1983), chronicling the voyage to Angola of the journalist Ryszard Kapuściński, which was presented in the official section at the Cannes Festival out of competition.
Two films with Basque production will premiere in Culinary Zinema. Miguel Ángel Jiménez, author of the short films Khorosho (Todo bien, Zinemira 2010) and Kafenio Kastello (Kimuak 2018) and of the feature films Ori (New Directors, 2009) and Chaika (New Directors, 2012), reflects in Y en cada lenteja un Dios life behind the scenes of L’Escaleta, a family restaurant with two Michelin stars. And in Bihar dok 13, by Ander Iriarte (Echevarriatik Etxeberriara) and Aitor Bereziartua, several students from the Basque Culinary Center will take their inspiration from the works of Gaur and Ez Dok Amairu, the movements which revamped the Basque artistic panorama fifty years ago.
All of the feature films mentioned will compete for the Irizar Basque Film Award, except for those premiered at other festivals (Mudar la piel, Un día más con vida, Bajo la piel del lobo and Errementari). A specific jury will give the award, carrying 20,000 euros for the producer or producers of the film, to the Best Basque Feature Film in world premiere at the Festival.
Besides the films will be one project with Basque production. The Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum will present Ane&Peio, maitasun istorio bat piper artean (Ane&Peio, A Paprika Love Story), conceived by Lara Izagirre, the helmer of Un otoño sin Berlín (An Autumn Without Berlin, Basque Film Gala 2015 and Irizar Award special mention for Irene Escolar).