"Josu Ternera has disappointed me. I expected it to be more conciliatory"

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Never has a film lasted so long at the San Sebastián Festival. We will forget the golden shells, but not the deafening noise of an interview in which, beyond the bulk of the concepts or the excessiveness of the atrocities heard, no one, neither interviewer nor interviewee, ever raises their voice. After the presentation to the media on Friday, Saturday was the turn of, let’s say, civil society. And there the directors appeared, Jordi Évole and Màrius Sánchez, willing to give the appropriate explanations.

We speak, to situate ourselves, of Don’t call me Veal. We are talking about the interview in documentary format (or the other way around) in which the former leader of the terrorist group ETA gives, for the first time, his version of himself and his people. We are talking about the film that, as soon as its inclusion in the Festival’s programming became known, prompted a letter signed by fifty citizens against it. “We would have liked to make much less noise in an edition of the festival with names like Trueba, Bayona or Coixet”, Évole commented as a prologue and, incidentally, as an apology to his colleagues and companions in the hand program. Of course, he pointed out that the fault had not been entirely his: “Those who set the agenda were the gentlemen of the statement. We would have preferred that things had been said after, at least, watching the film.”

And after the presentation, shortly after the first question on the subject was prompted, Évole himself placed what was undoubtedly the message of the appearance before the press and which he underlined and repeated up to three times: “Josu Ternera disappointed us. We expected and would have wanted a more conciliatory language, expressed in kinder words. He always spoke internally more than externally. He addressed his people at all times: the prisoners and the militancy.” And he added: “The Abertzale left has always been distinguished by its cowardice. “No one ever says what they think so as not to be identified as a dissident.”

Regarding the criticism of whitewashing, the other strong argument of the appearance, both Sánchez and Évole clung to their “duty as journalists.” “Our idea,” he began, “was always to shed light where there has never been any. It is the first time that an ETA leader does an interview with a national media that, in addition, has ended up going global with the entry of Netflix [se estrena el 25 de diciembre]”, he said. And he added, challenging critics: “The journalistic interest of an interview with a terrorist leader is indisputable. There is no journalism school that says otherwise… We certainly did not expect preventive censorship. It took us two years to make the documentary and one to edit it. We are aware that it is a luxury at the moment that the profession is going through… The easy thing would have been to stay at home and do nothing. For us it was a journalistic duty and the only thing I feel is absolute pride. “I wouldn’t like it if one day looking back I told myself that I didn’t do what I had to do because I was afraid.”

Sánchez said that the project began to take shape in 2020 and that the recording of the three sessions of three hours each with Josu Ternera took place in May 2022. A year later, the statements that open and close the documentary were introduced. of the ETA victim Francisco Ruiz Sánchez. “It was very complicated and everything was created by breaking a lot of stones. We met on several occasions and from the initial refusal we went to yes. It was a year and a half process,” Sánchez recalled.

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