Tag: documentary films about Basque Country

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.

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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.

New Documentary Film on Traditional Basque Sports

Rogue Fitness, and independent fitness equipment sales company, recently produced this interesting documentary about traditional Basque sports (also known as rural sports) based on feats of strength and rooted in rural labor such as farm chores and quarrying. These sports include stone lifting, wood chopping, anvil lifting, tug-of-war, weight carrying, and stone dragging.

As well as explaining what Basque traditional sports are, through the direct testimonies of their most famous exponents, the film also reveals much about Basque culture in general and includes some beautiful cinematography of the Basque Country. Most of the focus of the film is given over to the harrijasotzaileak or stone lifters, with detailed explanations of how the stones themselves are cut, how the stone lifters approach their task, and so on.

For a great introduction to Basque culture in general, click here to download Basque Culture: Anthropological Perspectives by William A. Douglass and Joseba Zulaika for free.

You may also be interested in Basque Pelota: A Ritual, an Aesthetic by Olatz González Abrisketa, which is the most comprehensive introduction in English to this most Basque of sports, which famously took root in the US in the form of Jai alai.