Category: Basque movies (page 1 of 2)

International Alert of Architectonic Heritage in Danger in Donostia

By Eneko Tuduri

This past 9th of April, the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS, a branch of the UNESCO) launched the second international alert of architectonic heritage in danger for the Bellas Artes Palace in Donostia/San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa (Basque Country).

The Palacio Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Palace), built in 1914 by the donostiarra architect Ramon Cortázar Urruzola (1867-1945), is “one of the earliest extant examples of a purpose-built movie palace left in the Basque Country and in all of Spain”[1]. Furthermore, the Bellas is a unique innovative building built before the First World War; it follows the French typology of a Palace du Cinéma (movie palace), an eclectic type of monumental buildings, ranging between the Art Noveau and Art Decó styles.

In the first years of cinema films were shown in cafes, regular theaters and street pavilions[2]. It is only after 1907 that cinema theaters were built specifically for their purpose, such as the Gaumont-Palace cinema in Paris[3]. The Bellas Artes is clearly inspired by this cinema theater, but also receives influences from the Viennese Secession architectural style, ancient Egyptian temples and eastern pagodas[4]. Structurally, it is one of the first buildings in Spain using reinforced concrete cast in place, making it a very resistant structure and a more significant building.

The architect, Ramon Cortázar, and his father Antonio Cortazar are part of the most important architect saga in Gipuzkoa´s capital.  Antonio was the designer of the city center, the so-called Ensanche Cortázar. Ramon crowned his father’s decades long work with this building, marking the end of the expansion area of the Donostia 100 years after its destruction by Anglo-Portuguese troops in 1813.

In 2015, the Bellas Artes went from the highest protection category to the destruction of the dome, the most important architectural feature of the building.

On the same day of its 100th anniversary, good news arrived to the defenders of the palace that was already threatened[5]; the building got the highest rate of protection from the Basque Government after a request by ANCORA, the citizen platform formed to defend the monument[6]. However, shortly after this, SADE, the company that owns the building, presented an appeal against this order. In a turn of the events, the government decided to dismiss the protection order. Just after the removal of this protection, SADE informed the city council of the appearance of a crack in the dome and proposed to demolish it, alleging danger of collapse.

Between October 20 and 30 of 2015, SADE demolished the dome of the Bellas Artes building and covered the building with a protective mesh – as a shroud -” to give a sense of decrepitude”[7]. Not only was the dome lost but by this time decorative elements, such as the zinc masks of fantastical creatures in the corners of the dome, were already lost. An order to rebuild the dome was given by the city council to SADE, but without any date or condition.

Today the actual condition of the building is the same as at the end of 2015, without a dome and with the clear intention by the owner to let it deteriorate, declare it a ruin, and demolish it. For these reasons, ICOMOS launched the second international alert. As the dossier about the building declares: “The recovery of its former glory would be desirable” and the ” The Bellas Artes can be and should be protected and fully restored”[8].

 

The Bellas Artes short after the inauguration.

The monument today, after the destruction of the dome.

[1] Dossier of international alert of the ICOMOS about the building. March 30, 2019. p. 2.

[2] Ibidem. p. 2.

[3] Nowadays demolished. Ibidem. p. 5.

[4] Ibidem. p. 14.

[5] September 12, 2014. By May 2015 a first international alert was launch by the ICOMOS warning the local authorities.

[6] This group has defended this monument, but also many other historical buildings in Donostia and the surroundings. Formed by architects and art historians, Ancora received the medal of the city this year because of the task of protecting and disseminating the architectonical heritage of the city. It is not the only citizen group in San Sebastian created in the last years to protect its heritage, showing the high level of destruction of heritage perpetrated in the last decades.

[7] Ibidem. p 4.

[8] Ibidem. p. 15.

The Basque film HANDIA is nominated for 13 Goya Awards

 

handia pelicula bilaketarekin bat datozen irudiak

The Basque movie Handia (Giant) has been nominated for 13 Goya awards, including best film, best director, and best script. The Goya Awards are granted annually by the Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences of Spain.

handia pelicula bilaketarekin bat datozen irudiak

The film appears to be quite interesting as it is based on a true story.  The film begins after one of the protagonists, Martin, returns to his family farmhouse in Gipuzkoa after fighting in the First Carlist War. There he discovers that his younger brother, Miguel Joaquín, is much taller than usual. Convinced that everyone will want to pay to see the greatest man on Earth, both brothers embark on a long journey through Europe in which ambition, money, and fame will forever change the destiny of the family.  

handia pelicula bilaketarekin bat datozen irudiak

The film Handia tells the true story of Miguel Joaquin Eleizegi Arteaga, a character who in the mid-nineteenth century was known as the Giant of Alzo. Born in 1819 in the Gipuzkoan town of Alzo, he suffered from acromegaly, a disease caused by a defect in the pituitary gland that causes excessive secretion of growth hormones. Miguel Joaquin came to weigh 467 pounds and measured 7’4 feet tall. Unfortunately, Miguel Joaquin died very young at the age of 43 from tuberculosis.

Gigante de Alzo bilaketarekin bat datozen irudiak

If you want to know more about  Basque Cinema you might like to read the following books: The Basque Nation on Screen: Cinema, Nationalism, and  Political Violence Basque Cinema.

 

 

Monday Movies: “The First Time” at 70

Let me explain. Imagine my situation. 70 years passed, and nothing… I had a boyfriend here and there, but… what I always knew is that I didn`t want to die like this. And since everyone says it`s a wonderful, fantastic thing, the truth is that… it intrigues you. And I told myself: Begoña, if this is something so nice, you can`t lose out on it.

Begoña is an elderly woman—and a virgin. Convinced that death is close, she decides to hire a male prostitute, Daniel, to satisfy her curiosity about the thing that everyone says is so beautiful and marvelous. However, this will not be an easy task for Daniel. The First Time is Cobeaga`s first short film, which he made before he would become a household name behind such box office hits like Ocho Apellidos Vascos, Pagafantas, the weekly comedy series Vaya Semanita, or his Oscar-nominated One Too Many.

The short film was nominated for the 2002 Goya Awards, and received more than 30 awards in Spain and at international festivals. In his trademark mood of bitter sweet comedy, Cobeaga presents a completely anomalous situation that is nevertheless based on a range of familiar clichés: prostitution delivered to home. What is different here is that the client is not a man, but an elderly woman played by a splendid Mariví Bilbao. After the initial surprise about his client, the young gigolo (Aitor Beltrán) finds himself before an unprecedented query.

Cobeaga said this about the film, and the dark side of being an Oscar nominee from the perspective of creativity:

I like to pick diverse and different actors. I like this mixture. This has been present since The First Time, and also in the feature films there is this contrast: theater actors, humorists who work in television, actors who come from TV series…I think that 80% of the work of actor direction is about the choice of the actors. Sometimes I write with a particular actor on mind, other times no, but the election is always very scrupulous. When it comes to facing the direction of actors, I feel very confident, and I like it to be an intellectual process; I am not at all sensory when I talk with the actors. I intend to be very logical with what each character would do in each moment, and my behavior is the same in the dialogue with the actor. It is fundamental that they read the script from beginning to end, and transform the dialogues. From the perspective of dialogue, the script is never closed, and this gives tranquility. It generates good atmosphere, and the actors feel comfortable.

At a more personal or mental level, an Oscar nomination has its dark sides. The impression that you arrived at the Oscar when you barely even started yet… I developed a certain obsession with not believeing it too much, and this lead to self-confidence issues. Besides, a week after the Oscars I shot Río Puerco,  the short film that I am least happy with.  It was a tough blow psychologically. I started to think that the Oscar was tremendously accidental, that it happened to me, but it could have happened to any other person. It caused me insecurity. I was of low morale until the first script of Pagafantas came out.

The Monday Movies series presents Basque short films and contemporary cinema. Most of these short films have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of our upcoming book Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema. Enjoy!

Monday movies: “The Raven” by Tinieblas González

We are pleased to announce that we are starting our Monday Movies series to present Basque short films and contemporary filmmakers! The short films presented here have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque Government`s distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of the CBS`s upcoming book publication Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema. Enjoy!

In a mournful midnight, the writer Edgar Allan Poe tries in vain to entertain himself reading occultist books, and he constantly remembers his beloved Leonore, who died shortly before.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more.

Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven

 

Tinieblas González and Karra Elejalde wrote the script of this short film on the basis of the American classic The Raven (1845), which catapulted its author, Edgar Allan Poe to fame. The adaptation keeps the same structure as the original poem.

The writer locks himself in his room, converted into a mausoleum, to dedicate his existence to the memory of the deceased woman. The music that evokes Leonor is associated with each of the apparitions of the beloved woman: the picture, the flashback and the hallucinations that torture Poe. This musical composition stands out for its subtleness. The room`s Baroque decoration features saturated red, resembling the iconography of the horror of Hammer Films. The cemetery evokes the suggestive imaginary of Monastery graveyard in the snow (1818-1819) by Caspar David Friedrich, the Romantic German painter, and its disturbing atmosphere is transferred to the forest that surrounds the mansion. Death transforms the woods into a sinister place where the branches of the trees reach toward the sky over a sea of snow. Poe is full of profound melancholy, and is lost outside on the fields. Leonor sends a seductive invitation to her husband so that he passes over to the other world.

Watch Part 1 and 2 here:

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Tinieblas González said this about about making The Raven:

The Raven had a design of excellent production, it was a short film that had a presence. I spent more than 19 million pesetas on it, and received a lot of criticism on part of some short film makers. They said that it was more like a feature film rather than a short film. Apparently, The Raven lacked the aesthetics of a short film. It was an accusation that did not at all correspond to reality. I had seen many short films at an endless number of festivals all over the world, and I knew that it was not the case. In spite of the criticism, people started to become enthusiastic, and invest more money in their short films. Nevertheless, all of this disappeared. The design of production is fundamental in a short film, but in the past years it has been rather neglected. Depending on the story it tells, cinema can be poor. But there are films that need to offer a spectacle. Because at the end of the day, for me, cinema has always been about entertainment. I don`t consider myself an artist, I consider myself a creator. A creator of ideas. I make films because I like entertaining. In fact, I think that cinema is first of all entertainment. And later, if a film stays in the annals of history, it may become a work of art.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Movies: “Syntony”

 

We are pleased to announce that we are starting our Monday Movies series to present Basque short films and showcase contemporary filmmakers. The short films presented here have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque Government`s distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of the CBS`s upcoming book publication Kimuak Short Films: Buds of Basque Cinema. Enjoy!

“Shall I be honest? I think I`ve fallen in love.”

“Come on María, you barely know him.”

“It doesn`t matter. You just feel it. I think we have tuned in to each other, and that`s it!”

Sometimes it`s not a question of long conversations, or living together. Sometimes a particular situation or encounter is enough to connect with someone. “Syntony” (Sintonía) by Jose Mari Goneaga is a romantic comedy where a Basque man, stuck in a traffic jam on the highway, tries to call the attention of a woman sitting in another car. He wants to warn her that her scarf is stuck outside of the door. She doesn`t see him, however; she is absorbed, singing. He starts to tune in to radio channels, until the music`s lyrics finally match those on the woman`s lips. He calls the radio program to warn her about her scarf.

The man, timid and incapable of dealing with the woman face to face, lacks the social skills to approach her in person, but he finds a way to connect with her over the radio. The fear of failure, of rejection, paralyzes our spontaneity, and “Syntony” is about taking risks when we stand before the unexpected opportunities that life offers us. Watch the short film, only available in Spanish for now:

Goneaga, who has directed well-known feature films such as 80 Days and Flowers, said this about his short film:

I am not a great friend of metaphors but, when I structured the script, I considered the cars on the highway as metaphors for people. And the people who are inside are like our real “I.” Even though we live surrounded by people, we have difficulty connecting, tuning in with someone, and to reach their interior. We see people talking on the radio and the phone, but we don’t see anyone directly approaching another person. Also, there is a reflection on the incapacity that we sometimes have to open ourselves towards others. This shyness… I didn’t intend this as something specifically cultural, but I have been repeatedly told that the male character is very “Basque.” What happens is that in the end you are Basque, you put your personality into your character in a certain way, and the result is that they tell you that it is very “Basque.”

 

(source: www.kimuak.com)

 

Monday Movies: “On the Line”

We are pleased to announce that we are starting our Monday Movies series to present Basque short films and contemporary filmmakers! The short films presented here have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque Government`s distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of the upcoming CBS publication Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema. 

On the line (2008), by the Donostia-San Sebastian based director, Jon Garaño, is a mockumentary (satire documentary) about the volunteer border patrols that oversee the border between the United States and Mexico.

The short film mixes three formats: news program, documentary, and fiction. It relates the life of a volunteer border patrol, Adam, who guards the Mexican-American border in order to prevent the arrival of illegal immigrants. Towards the beginning of the short, his wife, Jane, is preparing breakfast while chatting with the filmmakers about her children. It’s a big white working-class family. The woman is proud of her volunteer husband, and as a good wife, she brings Adam’s lunch. She says goodbye to him with her baby in her arms. This ideal family model of American society is opposed to the immigrant woman Eugenia`s figure, who is trying desperately to cross the border in the desert, with a baby in her arms. Eugenia is a single mother and does not have the family structure that Jane has. When Adam arrives at the post, his colleagues tell him that a couple of Mexicans are crossing the borders, and there is no trace of the police. He takes his rifle and rushes to the place where Eugenia was spotted. Watch the rest of the short film, and we hope you enjoy it!

Director Jon Garaño said this about this short film:

The topic occurred to me when I lived in San Diego. This American city is close to Tijuana, on the border. Every day there was news about illegal immigration into the United States, and it occurred to me that I should shoot something about this issue. But On the Line could have been set in Ceuta. Some local realities transcend their environment, and can be perfectly understood beyond their borders. In fact, we live very similar realities in the world. Like us, or any country that receives immigrants, Americans must recognize the importance of immigrants, and I wanted to reflect on this in a very subtle way. It is for this reason that we ended the story with a shot of the American flag. I think that this shot has not been correctly interpreted. It was understood as a criticism. Possibly I erred in the form of expressing the message, but what I wanted to transmit is that those who cross the border are now part of the country.

Stay tuned on Mondays for more on the Kimuak series, and the upcoming book.

Post by our new Professor, Mariann Vaczi. Interview coming soon!

A Girls’ Game? Women and Pelota

Continuing on our tour through Women’s History Month, I recently came across a short documentary film, Las Pelotaris: A Girls’ Game, directed by Andrés Salaberri Pueyo and Daniel Burgui Iguzkiza, which was released in 2015.

 

The film, as the title suggests, is about women who play the Basque sport of pelota, but it goes beyond Basque women to follow players from around the world. In a universe dominated by men, these women struggle for recognition for their passion in this sport. Check out the trailer, I’m sure you’ll be enticed to watch the full documentary!

As the film’s website describes:

A story of passion and challenges

‘LAS PELOTARIS’ is the story of Maite, Alice, Rose, Marion, Esther and many other women playing the Basque game of pelota; a sport which remains exotic and unknown, although it is played and practised in over 30 countries.

On the court, these women are brave and play with enthusiasm and sacrifice, but even if they win medals and World tournaments, their achievements always are discreet. Because, above all, this is a sport for men.

To read more check out: http://www.laspelotaris.com/story/?lang=en

For 99 cents, you can watch the full film at the following website: https://www.feelmakers.com/en/videos/13711/las-pelotaris_-a-girl%EF%BF%BD-s-game

For more on women and pelota, check out some of our previous posts, including one on the championship held earlier this month. And of course, if you’re interested in learning more about Basque sports, check  out Olatz González Abrisketa’s  Basque Pelota: A Ritual, An Aesthetic

 

The 2016 Bilbao Mendi Film Festival

This year’s Bilbao Mendi Film Festival kicked off on December 9 and runs through December 18. This is an annual festival that celebrates cinematic representations of mountains, mountaineering, hiking, climbing, skiing, adventure, exploration, extreme sports, and the great outdoors in general. Check out the trailer on the main website to get a flavor of what it’s all about.

bilbao-mendi-film-festival-2016

Basque-themed work appearing at the festival this year includes Akabuko Martxea, a documentary directed by Aitor Gisasola and Fredi Paia about efforts to recreate the tradition of sheep transhumance in herding sheep from the Urbia Mountains to the Uribe Kosta coastal district.

In the fall of 2015 two Gipuzkoan shepherds, Mikel Etxezarreta and Eli Arrillaga, spent five days herding 250 sheep from Zegama in Gipuzkoa to Getxo in Bizkaia. Their aim was to recreate the tradition of transhumance, a way of life that came to an end in the early 1980s. Indeed, Etxezarreta himself last carried out such a trek in 1982.

The Basque-made documentary, Kurssuaq. La exploración del Río Grande, will also be shown. We covered this amazing kayak expedition in a previous post here. Similarly, Humla, produced and directed by Mikel Sarasola, charts the adventures of four kayakers as they attempt to negotiate the mighty Humla Karnali, the longest river in Nepal.

The documentary Common Ground, meanwhile, charts the expedition of a group of climbers, including the brothers Iker and Eneko Pou from Vitoria-Gasteiz, to the remote Chukotka region of Siberia. In a similar vein, Eñaut Izagirre’s Incognita Patagonia, produced for National Geographic, covers a climbing expedition to the Cloue Icefield on Hoste Island, at the southern tip of Latin America.

Elsewhere, Jon Herranz directs Mar Alvarez No Logo, a documentary about woman firefighter and part-time climber, Mar Alvarez.

In somewhat of a different direction, Iker Elorrieta’s film I Forgot Myself Somewhere examines the challenges faced by women in northern Pakistan to get an education.

And Xabier Zabala’s Imaginador is a biography of photographer Santi Yaniz, famed for his work in the Basque Country and the Pyrenees.

See a full list of the films on show here.

Promote the Basque language by participating in Gaztezulo Magazine’s Video Contest

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Gaztezulo magazine, with the support of the Azkue Foundation, has launched their 7th video contest, with the aim of promoting the use of Basque in the media by young people. The competition is open to participants from around the world, with the use of Basque being the only requirement. Are you one of the many Basque speakers of the diaspora? Get creative and participate!

The winner will take home a 1,200-euro prize, thanks to the Azkue Foundation, and the second best will be awarded 300 euros. The video with the most votes by November 10 on www.gaztezulo.eus will receive the Audience Award and a gift pack from Gaztezulo. The deadline for submitting your project is November 10, so stop what you’re doing and get started!

The Audience Award will be announced on November 28, while the names of the general contest winners will be released in December. The awards ceremony will take place at the Tabakalera, in Donostia, on December 16.

For more information, please visit: https://www.gaztezulo.eus/bideo-lehiaketa

Zorte on!

Amama screenings begin today, don’t miss out!

AMAMA: When a tree falls (2015), director Asier Altuna’s latest film, will be shown and followed by a Q&A session at various cities throughout the United States. The tour kicks off in Boise today at the Basque Museum and Cultural Center.

Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 12.39.20 AM

Altuna, born in Bergara (Gipuzkoa), has gained critical acclaim for his films, including a nomination for Best New Director at the Goya Awards in 2005 for his debut film Aupa Etxebeste. Amama won the Irizar Prize for Basque Cinema at last year’s San Sebastian International Film Festival.

The film is a story of tradition confronted by change in a rural Basque family farm. When the eldest son decides to move away instead of inheriting his father’s farm and way of life, the daughter, Amaia, tries to convey, while also understand, the necessity for change to her father, Tomas. Both sides are highlighted in the film, celebrating customs and tradition while grasping the need for progress. The visual landscapes are haunting in an alluring way and symbolic throughout. Watch the trailer here:

Be sure to go to one of the showings, it’s bound to be worthwhile!

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