Basque cinema will be in full bloom in Scotland this spring with the #ScotlandGoesBasque programme. The retrospective Films from Basque Country follows forty years of Basque cinema, featuring a selection of films by three generations of Basque directors. The programme is now in full swing in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and in London, Manchester and Leeds. In addition to the screenings, various film-related parallel events are also on offer, including master classes, activities that fuse cinema and cuisine, and dance performances. The programme organizers said that the Scottish public has been very supportive of this initiative. Here’s an update of what’s happened so far in Films from Basque Country.
The retrospective kicked off on April 25 with the 2018 selection of the Kimuak programme at the Glasgow Center for Contemporary Arts. The line-up of short films was widely applauded by the public: 592 metroz goiti (Above 592 Metres) by Maddi Barber; Ama (Mother) by Josu Rodriguez; Ancora Lucciole (Still Fireflies) by Maria Elorza; Kafenio Kastello by Miguel Angel Jimenez; No me despertéis (Don’t Wake Me Up) by Sara Fantova; Zain (Waiting) by Pello Gutierrez; and Espedizio handia (The Great Expedition) by Iban del Campo. The event opened in Edinburgh on the 26th with Dantza by Telmo Esnal. After seeing the film, critic Chris Dobson wrote the following in the online arthouse magazine Take One: “Dantza is utterly captivating, despite not containing a word of dialogue. ... There is surely no better introduction to Basque culture and customs than the joyous Dantza”.
The Leith Pintxos & Films Crawl took place on April 28th. Organized by the people at Cinemaattic, co-sponsors of Films from Basque Country, the event brought the tradition of miniature delicacies on bread, so venerated in San Sebastián and Bilbao bars, to Edinburgh’s Leith district. Pintxos were offered to some 200 people, with each bar screening a short from the short-film distributor Kimuak; The evening culminated with Álex de la Iglesia’s 1995 classic feature film El día de la bestia (The Day of the Beast).
On May 1st Montxo Armendariz’s classic Tasio was screened at the Glasgow Film Theatre. Miren Manias-Muñoz presented the film, after which the audience expressed their surprise and delight at seeing such a beautiful film shot in 35mm.
The following day female Basque filmmakers took the floor, this time at the Edinburgh College of Art. Students and industry professionals had the opportunity to take part in a masterclass with Izibene Oñederra and Begoña Vicario. The prominent filmmaker-animators talked about how they got started and their experience in collaborative projects. Not far from here, director Ana Schulz presented Mudar la piel (The Spy Within), a documentary that pushes the boundaries of non-fiction.
On May 4th the programme featured dinner and Bihar dok 13, a documentary that explores the links between tradition and innovation in Basque cuisine. The small-scale event proved to be very popular, with all 30 seats selling out in no time.
The following day another Basque classic, Vacas by Julio Medem, was screened at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
When asked about how the films and other activities have been received so far, the directors of Cinemaattic said that the both the public and representatives of institutions like the Glasgow Film Theater have given glowing reviews, that the retrospective has exceeded their expectations, and that they are eager to delve further into Basque cinematography.
But the Scottish spring isn’t over yet. Under the #ScotlandGoesBasque programme, our cinema will continue in the coming weeks. In Glasgow the public can see Loreak (Flowers) by Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga; El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive) by Víctor Erice; No habrá paz para los malvados (No Rest for the Wicked) by Enrique Urbizu; and Obaba by Montxo Armendariz. In addition, the Kimuak programme of short films will be screened In London, Manchester and Leeds. And in June, the Edinburgh International Film Festival will screen the UK premiere of Koldo Almandoz’s Oreina, and the short film Espedizio handia (The Great Expedition) by Iban del Campo. The festival will also host a gathering of Scottish and Basque film industry professionals.