The keys to the rise of cinema in Basque




Shoot a movie in Basque it is still a risky bet. Knows it very well David Pérez Sañudo who chose this language to record his debut, Ane (2020). “You have to be very aware of where we are,” says the filmmaker nominated in the next Goya Awards for Best New Director, Best Adapted Screenplay – along with Marina Parés– and best movie for this tape. Even so, the Bilbao director is aware that we are facing a change in trend. Since Flowers (2014), work directed by Jon Garaño Y Jose Mari Goenaga, in 2015 became the first film filmed in Basque to be nominated for the highest award in Spanish cinema, the Basque film industry has turned upside down. “It was a change in trend. With her or Amama, new paths were opened and references were created “, says Pérez Sañudo.

Guided by the effect Flowers and with the San Sebastián Festival acting as a channel for these productions in Basque, Basque cinema showed that it was also capable of connecting with the public and reaching commercial cinema in their own language. An impulse that, three years later, would translate into the resounding success of Great (2018). That year the film achieved the Goya for Best Film and it became the Basque and Basque-language film with the most awards in the history of this gala. Behind both productions, a key name to understand the rise of the Basque scene, that of Moriarti Productions, the audiovisual company that Garaño, Goenaga and Aitor Arregi (The infinite trench, 2019) co-founded in 2001 and that has helped to promote that Basque sounds more on the big screen. Added to all this, the institutional support. An essential tool, as Pérez Sañudo points out, for the cultural health of the Basque Country film industry.

Patricia López Arnaiz stars in ‘Ane’, by David Pérez Sañudo GTRES

Thank you to Basque cinema!

For Amaia Aberasturi No doubt. “Cinema in Basque is booming”. The protagonist of Akelarre (2020), nominated for her performance for Best Actress in the 35th edition of the Goya AwardsShe had the opportunity to interpret her character in her mother tongue in which she can express herself better, as she confesses. “I love when I get projects in Basque and I record in my land. I connect much more and I believe that it is so, speaking in Basque we are projecting our culture“, Add.

In case of Akelarre is very particular. Your director, Pablo Aguero, is Argentine, but the fascination for Basque folklore mythology led him to shoot in Euskera. There was a double intention. On the one hand, the feminist revision of the witch hunt for women -which in the Basque Country was especially harsh-; and, on the other hand, also account for the Witch hunt to the Basque language itself, considered in those years of the Inquisition as a language of the devil.

RTVE.es premieres the trailer for ‘Akelarre’, a historical and feminist drama based on a real witchcraft trial

Fortunately, things have changed. “We are demonstrating how a film shot entirely in Basque can work in the commercial circuit”, says Amaia Aberasturi. Two examples of this are the additions to the catalog of Netflix of the tapes Blacksmith (2017), by Pablo Urkijo and Black is Black (2018), by Fermín Muguruza. Both, shot in Basque. It also influences that “we are learning to watch movies in other languages”, as Pérez Sañudo comments, and that Spanish viewers are overcoming the inheritance by rejecting subtitles.

What Basque does “cinema in Basque” speak?

The reality is that this language has an enormous variety and richness. “Each region of the Basque Country has different ways of speaking Basque,” explains Amaia. The so-called “dialect” (different dialects of Basque). “On the other hand, there is the united Basque, which is unified Basque, the one taught in ikastolas and in which most films are recorded in Basque ”, says the 23-year-old young actress who confesses that she is not so familiar with it. Basque “urban”. “I express myself better in my Basque, that of my people,” he adds.

All of this implies a complexity when it comes to shooting, as pointed out by David Pérez Sañudo. “In Ane we had to be very careful with this because Jone Laspiur has a very pure Basque, while Iñaki Ardanaz had a Basque learned in Navarre and Patricia López Arnaiz, a Basque from Batua ”, says Pérez Sañudo, for whom it was quite a challenge.

RTVE.es premieres the trailer for ‘Ane’, David Pérez Sañudo’s debut that will be presented at the San Sebastián Festival

Much more than a language

Beyond language, the Basque or Basque cinema scene is related to each other. For the director of Ane, “in all of them there is a great reflection on communication problems, perhaps a reflection of the northern paucity”. They delve into it Flowers, Ane, Great or the last movie of Juanma Bajo Ulloa, Baby, that travels in the silences of a mother and her child.

Pérez Sañudo also highlights the presence of women in Basque cinema. Strong characters, who fill the screen with their presence and star in most of the films. It is the case of Ane, whose film will also compete this 6th of March in the categories of Best Actress (Patricia López Arnaiz) and Best New Actress (Jone Laspiur). It remains to wait now for Ane Y Akelarre, two of the 68 tapes participated by RTVE nominated in the next Goya awards, manage to rise with several big heads to raise their voices with a thank you!

Poster for ‘Baby’, by Juanma Bajo Ulloa

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