15 Basque productions at the Nantes festival

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


The Fenêtre Basque (Basque Window) series featured every year at the Festival du Cinéma Espagnol de Nantes is one of the most extensive Basque film screenings to be found outside the Basque Country. Promoted by Etxepare Basque Institute, Fenêtre Basque offers a selection of some of the year’s most outstanding Basque productions, as well as films by prominent Basque directors.

Running from 8 to 20 March, a total of 15 Basque productions will be screened at this year’s festival: five feature films, nine short films and one series. Five of them will also be up for competition.

‘Maixabel´ (2021), a Basque production directed by Icíar Bollaín, is one of the feature films brought for the first time to French audiences. One of the best films of the year in Spain, Maixabel’ travels to Nantes after competing in the Official Selection at the San Sebastian Film Festival and receiving three Goya awards. Based on the experiences of Maixabel Lasa, it tells the story of the former Civil Governor of Guipúzcoa, Juan María Jaúregui, assassinated by ETA in 2000. Eleven years later, the man who ended his life asks for a face-to-face encounter with his wife. The film will compete in the fiction feature film section at Nantes. In addition, on 19 March, a colloquium will be held with director Icíar Bollaín and Maixabel Lasa.

‘Canto cósmico. Niño de Elche’ (2021) by Marc Sempere and Leire Apellaniz will vie for the Best Documentary Film. This work immerses the audience into the intimate and poetic universe of the controversial Spanish musician Niño de Elche.

‘Espíritu sagrado´ (2021), Chema García Ibarra´s debut feature, will compete for Best First Feature Film. ‘Espíritu sagrado´ is as surprising as it is unclassifiable, a combination of paranormal and mystery.

The feature films ´Ilargi guztiak´ (2021), a dreamlike tale by Igor Legarreta, and ´Kuartk Valley´ (2021), a documentary by Maider Oleaga about the first Basque western, will also be included in the Fenêtre Basque roster.

Koldo Almandoz, director of ´Sipo phantasma´ (2016), ´Oreina´ (2018), and ´Quebrantos´ (2020), will be back at Nantes with the mini-series ´Hondar ahoak´ (Bocas de Arena, 2020).

Two Basque filmmakers are also among the nominees for Best Short Film: ‘Au pair´ (2021) by David Pérez Sañudo, and ´Heltzear´ (2021) by Mikel Gurrea. The latter short film is part of Kimuak 2021, the selection of the year’s best Basque short films.

Fenêtre Basque will once again screen the rest of the Kimuak 2021 shorts: ´Azaletik azalera´ (2021) by Mel Arranz; ´Berak baleki´ (2021) by Aitor Gametxo; ´Inner Outer Space´ (2021) by Laida Lertxundi; ´Resonancias´ (2021) by Iñigo Aranburu; ´Trumoiak´ (2021) by Iker Maguregi; ´Ur azpian lore´ (2021) by Aitor Oñederra, and ´Zerua blu´ (2021) by Lur Olaizola.

Finally, we should mention that the festival will pay tribute in the Gaslin theatre to Bilbao composer Luis de Pablo, who died last October. De Pablo’s music can be heard in numerous films, including ´El espíritu de la colmena´ by Víctor Erice, ´Las secretas intenciones´ by Antonio Eceiza and part of Carlos Saura´s filmography (´Peppermint frappé, ´Ana y los lobos´, ´La prima Angélica´).

Rich representation of Basque cinema

As a complement to this extensive and diverse showcase of Basque cinema, several guests will be at Nantes: Koldo Almandoz, Leire Apellániz, Marc Sempere, Chema García Ibarra, Igor Legarreta, Maixabel Lasa and Icíar Bollaín.

Scriptwriter Michel Gaztambide will chair the jury, which will also include Basque Television and Radio (EiTB) journalist Kristina Zorita.

The Nantes Spanish Film Festival was created in 1990 to promote Spanish-made films in France. In addition to screenings, festival activities include round-table discussions, Spanish Radio and Television (RTE) displays, and concerts. Every year, the event attracts over 27,000 spectators, as well as critics and industry professionals.

In 2020, the festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, and in 2021, the event went hybrid. But this year’s festival is back in full swing: The 31st edition will feature 60 films and 40 special guests. Three venues will host the various sessions: Katorza, Les Cinématographe and the Graslin theatre.

Nantes has been Europe’s leading city for the appreciation of Basque cinema. Now in its 21st year, Fenêtre Basque has spotlighted leading names in Basque cinema, bringing actors, filmmakers and industry professionals to Nantes to share their work.

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