Kimuak: "In other countries they know that Basques short films are of good quality "

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.

2018-06-12

The Basque short films project, Kimuak, has just turned 20. The project set out to create a network for the distribution of Basque short films, and two decades later has gained international prestige in more than 1000 festivals. The programme managed by the Basque Film Archive and promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute selects the best short films each year to create and has just released the 2018 selection. To talk about the development and challenges of the program, we met up with Txema Muñoz and Esther Cabero, director and coordinator of Kimuak.

 

The Basque short films project, Kimuak, has just turned 20. The project set out to create a network for the distribution of Basque short films, and two decades later has gained international prestige in more than 1000 festivals. The programme managed by the Basque Film Archive and promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute selects the best short films each year to create and has just released the 2018 selection. To talk about the development and challenges of the program, we met up with Txema Muñoz and Esther Cabero, director and coordinator of Kimuak.

 

  • How would you define the Kimuak project?

TM: Kimuak is a tool designed to help creators of Basque short films to disseminate, promote and distribute their work internationally.

 

  • The project has just turned 20 and, among other highlights, it has just been honoured in Scotland. Tell us about Kimuak´s evolution.

TM: In the early years it was our first experience, something new; we didn’t have anything to compare it with to see how well we were doing. We were blazing a new trail. It was hard at first, but from 2003 on, the initiative took on another dimension and began to be the programme we know today. From that point on, the evolution has been impressive. In 2001 the shorts were sent to about 200-300 festivals; now they go out to more than 1000.

EC: Today we look for new challenges to create new audiences and to promote new ways of consuming short films. But Kimuak was already known at the industry level.

 

  • Does this format exist in other countries?

EC: Not at first, but now it does. Other regions in Spain have similar programmes, although some work differently: they don’t distribute the films ... each one has its own model. In other countries there are also similar experiences. For example, the Colombian programme was based on Kimuak.

TM: In the beginning we only knew two similar experiences. UniFrance is one – France has always been at another level in terms of audiovisual. And the New Zealand Film Commission, which had a special programme. They are the real pioneers. But we were the first in Spain, and our programme was different. The others did not put together a selection of films like we did.

 

  • What is Kimuak´s place in terms of the internationalization of Basque audiovisuals?

EC: The Glasgow programme is significant. (Glasgow honours Kimuak with a one-week screening programme). They’ve been programming our shorts for seven years. In other places as well. After all, every year we receive requests from festivals to schedule the Kimuak shorts; internationally they know that Basque short films are of good quality. We also receive requests from institutions and associations.

TM: Ohio, Cleveland ... In addition to festivals, the shorts are shown in different places year after year.

EC: And in those places know that they’re Basque. Kimuak is a good way to spread Basque culture to those places.

 

  • The initiative offers new creators the opportunity to distribute their work around the world. Many of these names are now recognized in the film industry. What doors does Kimuak open to these new filmmakers?

TM: It gives them visibility. If you enter Kimuak you know that your work is going to be seen all over the world. It’s your foot in the door, your ‘business card’. Luiso Berdejo, for example, filmed his first feature film with Kevin Costner, and he said that he was already ahead of the game with Kimuak. It was his business card. What we ensure is a strong foothold, and the directors know that their films will be seen.

 

  • What is Kimuak’s procedure, and how can someone present his/her short film? What factors are valued when making the selection?

EC: The process is similar to that of a film festival. The call for proposals opens at the beginning of the year. Projects can be presented by filmmakers and producers from the Basque Country. When the call is closed a professional jury (we don’t participate) makes the selection. There’s no specific score; what is valued is the overall quality. Once the selection is made, distribution begins immediately. For example, the 2018 selection was made on Monday and we have already started sending it to festivals... The material is prepared, subtitled in seven languages, and the festival tour begins.

 

  • What would you underline in these 20 years? And how do you see the next 20?

TM: The most important thing that Kimuak has achieved is approachability. We’re not an institution, we’re a tool. And we work very closely with both filmmakers and festivals. We’ve created a meeting point. For me that’s the most important thing, because it’s what has has made this network possible.  

EC: The industry changes so much, so the goal is to try to keep up. We’ll have to see where this path takes us.

TM: There’s room to work, there’s a market and lots of things can be done. I think a kind of short film agency should be created (like they have in France), especially for filmmakers who are starting out: at the level of training, advice ... After all, Kimuak is not designed for new filmmakers, but to value the quality of films. And many good films are left out.

EC: Not all good short films enter Kimuak. All of this film production needs to be managed both here and internationally.

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