It is the Section dedicated to Basque film organised by the San Sebastian International Film Festival, the Basque Government Department of Culture and the Filmoteca Vasca; with the sponsorship of Irizar and EITB; and the collaboration of EPE/AVE and IBAIA. Seventeen productions will compose the overview of Basque cinema, eight of which will compete for the Irizar Basque Film Award. The actor and filmmaker Ramón Barea will receive this year’s Zinemira Award, given by the San Sebastian International Film Festival and the EPE/APV and IBAIA producers’ associations to the career of an outstanding personality in the world of Basque film. The Zinemira Award will be presented at the Basque Film Gala, in september, at the Victoria Eugenia Theatre.
The competing titles include seven documentaries and a single feature film, Igelak (Frogs), directed by Patxo Telleria and produced by Abra Prod, production company associated with IBAIA. The film, to be screened at the Basque Film and ETB Gala, follows a corrupt banker on the run. This is the third time that the actor, screenwriter and filmmaker from Bilbao has premiered a film at San Sebastian after having written and directed with Aitor Mazo La máquina de pintar nubes (The Cloud-Painting Machine, 2009), winner of the Versión Española Best Screenplay Award, and Bypass, in 2012, Best Film Comedy Award at Michigan. The gala will also see the premiere of Agirre Lehendakaria, a documentary biography directed by Francesc Escribano looking at the personal and professional life of Basque President José Antonio Aguirre through the research work of actor Daniel Grao as he prepares for his performance of this historic character.
Films about history, distant or recent, art and music inspire the documentaries in the section. Chillida: esku huts is the atypical biography of the sculptor from San Sebastian, directed by Juan Barrero, author of La jungla interior (2013); and the filmmaker Juanma Bajo Ulloa (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1967) , winner of the Golden Shell with his debut movie, Alas de mariposa (Butterfly Wings), brings us in Rocknrollers an encyclopaedic reflection on the world of rock ‘n’ roll based on the Azkena Rock Festival.
Maider Oleaga (Bilbao, 1976), author of Amaren idea and participant in the first edition of the Ikusmira Berriak programme, pens one of the five pieces of the project about the Basque President José Antonio Aguirre, promoted by the Basque TV and Radio network, ETB. Berlin, hideout of Aguirre in 1941, welcomes five people who wander its streets in Iragan Gunea Berlin. For its part, El fin de ETA (ETA, The End) is the documentary on the process that led to the end of ETA’s violence, narrated by Justin Webster, former reporter with The Independent and author of documentaries including Gabo, Seré asesinado and Barça Confidential.
Three debutants complete the competitive section. Baskavigin. La matanza de los balleneros vascos (Baskavigin.The Slaying of the Basque Whalers) is the first documentary by Aitor Aspe, author of the shorts Last Smile and Mi lucha. The production takes us back to June 1615 to recreate a violent occurrence in Iceland’s history and to remember its victims, 86 Basque whalers.
The moviemaker from Eibar now living in Copenhagen, Juan Palacios (Eibar, 1986) makes his feature directorial debut with Pedaló, narration of a journey by three friends aboard a pedalo round the Basque coast, and the parallel voyage of its director. And GUtik ZUra is the first audiovisual work by Mari Jose Barriola, a Technical Agricultural Engineer, expert in wood, who takes a trip from ancient times until today through the relationship between this material, the forest and the human being.
Diversity is also present in the non-competing films. From Acantilado (The Cliff), the latest feature by Helena Taberna, about two siblings and a sect in the Canary Islands, to the documentary Pelota II, by the anthropologist Olatz González Abrisqueta and the Danish poet and filmmaker Jørgen Leth, looking at the relationship between the pelota player and his work instrument, passing through Mara Mara, a blizzard in the Pyrenees filmed by David Aguilar, who presented his previous work Nao Yik (2011) in Zinemira. Conflicts and external catastrophes figure in Oihalak adarretan, where Juanmi Gutiérrez turns the eyes of his documentary towards ten million Armenians; Nola?, in which Fermin Muguruza, musician and maker of documentaries such as Checkpoint Rock, portrays the situation in New Orleans ten years on from hurricane Katrina; and Skhvisi Sakhli / House of Others, the Georgian, Russian and Spanish co-production directed by Rusudan Glurijdze (Tbilisi, Georgia, 1972), telling the tale of two families after the war in Abkhazia who are assigned houses left empty by the losers.
And there’s also space for a nod towards the pioneers of our recent past. Gaur irekiko ditut ateak, by Eriz Zapirain (Gazta zati bat), recovers the adventure of the creation of “Egunkaria”, first daily newspaper in the Basque language, closed down by the Spanish High Court in 2003. Iratxe Fresneda, Professor of Audiovisual Communication at the University of the Basque Country, takes a detailed look in her first film, Irrintziaren oiartzunak (Echoing Calls), at the work of filmmaker Mirentxu Loyarte, author of Irrintzi, a daring cinematic exercise in 1978. Finally, in Quinta Planta (Fifth Plant), part of the project on the subject of President Aguirre, Mikel Rueda portrays Jon, a young idealist in the New York of the 60s.