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Dear Grandma (El vasco) directed by Jabi Elortegi
Dear Grandma (El vasco) directed by Jabi Elortegi

Seventeen films – thirteen features and four shorts – make up the Basque participation at San Sebastian Festival’s 70th edition. Zinemira, the section specifically dedicated to Basque cinema at San Sebastian Festival will showcase seven fictions and non-fictions. A total of ten films, four of these, being a world premiere at the Festival, will compete for the Irizar Basque Film Award alongside another six works screening in other Festival sections.

The world premiere of El vasco / Dear Grandma will open Zinemira. Jabi Elortegi, who competed in Zabaltegi-New Directors with his debut movie, Zorion perfektua / Perfect Happiness (2009), directs Joseba Usabiaga, Itziar Aizpuru and Eduardo Blanco in this dramatic comedy.

The producer and screenwriter Izaskun Arandia also makes her debut in feature films with My Way Out, a non-fiction reconstructing the story of London’s homonymous transgender nightclub through interviews and archive footage.

Xuban Intxausti explores in Gesto the background of the pacifist collective Gesto por la paz and its ethical principles, using archive footage and present-day testimonials serving as a framework for reflecting on its three decades of history.

In Karpeta Urdinak / Blue Files, the moviemaker Ander Iriarte launches an investigation based on the suspicion that his father was the victim of torture by police on their premises. His inquiries takes him to the results of the investigation into torture and abuse in the Country between 1960 and 2014 and to the Istanbul Protocol.

The Victoria Eugenia Theatre will host the Basque Cinema Gala, featuring the premiere of Gelditasuna ekaitzean / Stillness in the Storm, the debut film from Alberto Gastesi, a love story starring Loreto Mauleón and Iñigo Gastesi.

A day later, the same setting will host the EiTB Gala with the screening of Kepa Junkera berpiztu / Kepa Junkera Come to Life Again, a feature-length documentary on recovery of the musician from Bilbao, victim of a stroke in 2018, and his legacy, directed by Fermin Aio.

Also competing for the Irizar Basque Film Award are two films already announced in the Official Selection -Suro, by Mikel Gurrea, and La consagración de la primavera / The Rite of Spring, by Fernando Franco (Seville, 1976)-, one of them in New Directors -A los libros y a las mujeres canto / To Books and Women I Sing, by Maria Elorza (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1988)- and Black is Beltza II: Ainhoa, by Fermin Muguruza, which will have its premiere in the Velodrome.

Three films will complete the Zinemira program out of competition due to having premiered prior to their screenings in San Sebastian: Cinco lobitos / Lullaby, by Alauda Ruiz de Azúa, which will close the section after having been selected for the Berlin, Seattle and Karlovy Vary festivals, having won the major awards at Malaga Festival and having been shortlisted by the Spanish Academy for the Oscars; 918 gau / 918 Nights, by Arantza Santesteban, which bagged awards at Lisbon and Turin; and Bi arnas, by Jon Mikel Fernández Elorz looking at the consequences of torture through the story of Iratxe Sorzabal and her mother.

Also appearing in the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera section are two shorts from the Kimuak program: Hirugarren koadernoa / The Third Notebook, by Lur Olaizola, to screen following its premiere at Cinéma du Réel, and Cuerdas /Chordsby Estibaliz Urresola, after showing at the Semaine de la Critique in Cannes.

For the first time in Nest, the competition for shorts by film school students, two Basque productions in the Basque language will compete for the Nest Award: Erro bi, by Nagore Muriel Letamendia (Villabona, 2000), from the University of the Basque Country; and Noizko basoa / Where Does a Forest Begin, by Mikele Landa Eiguren, from the Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola.

Although not screening in cinemas, other Basque productions will be included in the Festival, at the project stage, giving an idea of the films they will become. The projects are by Helena Taberna (Nosotros / Us), at the Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum and Karmele, by Asier Altuna, Una ballena / A Whale, by Pablo Hernando Esquisabel, and Baleazaleak / /Whalemen (At the Ends of the Earth), by Baltasar Kormákur, whIch will participate in the first meeting between international investors and talent agents with local producers in the framework of the Spanish Screenings initiative; and Irati Gorostidi will present her project Anekumen, developed at the Ikusmira Berriak residencies, to film industry representatives.

ZINEMIRA

EL VASCO / DEAR GRANDMA
JABI ELORTEGI (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain – Argentina
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award
Cast: Joseba Usabiaga, Eduardo Blanco, Itziar Aizpuru, Inés Efrón, Laura Oliva
OPENING FILM (IN COMPETITION)

Mikel has decided to change his life and accepts a distant relative’s invitation to travel to Argentina and settle there. However, it’s not long before he realizes that his uncle Chelo is nothing more than an affable gambler and drinker who has nothing to offer him. As if that wasn’t bad enough, things become even more complicated when Chelo’s mother Amuma Dolores awakens from a lethargy of ten years on hearing Mikel sing a lullaby in Basque and mistaking him for her brother Juanito, Mikel’s grandfather. From then on, the whole village sets about making Dolores believe that she is still in her native Bermeo of the 50s. Mikel will have nothing better to do than act as peacemaker between Dolores’ squabbling children, Chelo and Begoña, with the help and complicity of Inés, the eternally cheerful carer of Amuma Dolores.

CINCO LOBITOS / LULLABY
ALAUDA RUIZ DE AZÚA (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Laia Costa, Susi Sánchez, Ramón Barea
CLOSING FILM OUT OF COMPETITION

Amaia has recently become a mother. Her partner is away for months at a time and she is overwhelmed, unable to take care of her baby and return to her work as a translator. She decides to hole up at her parents house in the hope that they will take care of both herself and her baby in the place where she grew up, a pretty coastal town in the Basque Country. But life has other plans; her mother falls ill and it is Amaia who has to look after them all. She finds herself obliged to live her mother’s life of thirty years ago. She becomes a housewife, with an absent partner, in charge of a baby and an ailing grandmother. The family roles are reversed, forever changing their relations. The daughter becomes everyone’s mother. Amaia, who had only loved her mother until now, will also start to understand her.

918 GAU / 918 NIGHTS
ARANTZA SANTESTEBAN (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain

On October 4th, 2007 Arantza, the director of the film, was detained and taken to prison. She remembers a few things about those days: endlessly walking around the prison exercise yard, swimming competitions, Rasha’s prison journey… After 918 nights locked up, Arantza is set free. From then onwards, she recorded her memories and doubts, which are heard throughout the documentary as a kind of fragmented memoir.

BI ARNAS
JON MIKEL FERNANDEZ ELORZ (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain

This story is the tale of two breaths: that of Iratxe Sorzabal and that of Mari Nieves Díaz, Iratxe’s mother. Both, each in their own way, have suffered the lack of breath caused by torture, together with many other kinds of suffering. Bi arnas is a testimonial on torture, the reflection of an injustice and a dialogue never offered before.

GESTO
XUBAN INTXAUSTI (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award

Gesto is a journey through the memory of the Basque pacifism that worked during 30 years for peace and against violence in the Basque Country. This voyage undertaken by the protagonists of Gesto por la paz through visualizing images of the past, invites the spectator to see how the grounds, the actions and the ethical principles of the pacifist organization remain valid today. The film aims, above all, to pay homage to all citizens who peacefully demonstrated against violence and defended the respect for the Human Rights of all people.

KARPETA URDINAK / BLUE FILES
ANDER IRIARTE (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain – France
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award

Like many others, Ander suspects that what his father really suffered in that police station was torture. Seeking to clarify his suspicions, he will discover the Project of investigation into torture and abuse in the Basque Country between 1960-2014 drafted by the Basque Country as part of the Peace and Coexistence Plan. Appalled by the results published in the investigation, he meets the doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and lawyers who participated in the project, who will introduce him to concepts such as “psychological torture”, the “Istanbul Protocol” and “statistical approximation” and will show him the reality of torture in the global north.

MY WAY OUT
IZASKUN ARANDIA (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award
Competes for the Sebastiane Award

The legendary transgender club The Way Out celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018. The documentary looks back at the last three decades in the London trans scene, discovering the club’s impact on the transgender community through interviews and archive footage. The club closed in March 2020 for the first time in 28 years due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. What does the future hold for this unique place?

BASQUE FILM GALA

GELDITASUNA EKAITZEAN / STILLNESS IN THE STORM
ALBERTO GASTESI (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award
Cast: Loreto Mauleón, Iñigo Gastesi, Aitor Beltrán, Vera Milán

Lara returns from Paris with her partner, Telmo, to settle in San Sebastian. Daniel has never left the city; today he lives with his girlfriend, Vera, and works for his mother’s real estate agency. Lara and Daniel’s lives cross while visiting a flat for sale; but this may not be the first time they have met. Halfway between the past and the present, Gelditasuna ekaitzean (Stillness in the Storm) explores the love story of two people whose lives, in other circumstances, in other times, could have taken other paths.

EiTB GALA

KEPA JUNKERA BERPIZTU / KEPA JUNKERA COME TO LIFE AGAIN
FERMIN AIO (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award

Kepa Junkera left the stage on 6 December 2018 in Ghent, Belgium. He disappeared, his accordion fell silent. The news mentioned a stroke, urgent admission to hospital, a recovery process, and then nothing. The Basque artist who took the trikitixa and popular Basque music to the highest level, who pretty much brought out an album a year for the 32 years of his career, the self-taught man who became the most international Basque musician and who invited artists all over the world to sing in Basque disappeared without trace. Later came two years of hard work, of physiotherapy sessions to recover his physical mobility, learn to talk, move his hands, turn his head, eat, stay alive. Because Kepa continues to live, continues to create, to enjoy the thrill of art, of music, of poetry, of painting, of photography. This documentary is the story of that emotion.

OFFICIAL SELECTION – In competition

LA CONSAGRACIÓN DE LA PRIMAVERA / THE RITE OF SPRING
FERNANDO FRANCO (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award
Cast: Valèria Sorolla, Telmo Irureta, Emma Suárez

Laura has just arrived in Madrid to study at University. One night, she accidentally meets David, who has cerebral palsy. The relationship with the boy and his mother will give Laura the push she needs to overcome her complexes and insecurities and confidently enter a new phase. A story about that vital moment when anything is possible and how the most unexpected encounters can change our lives.

SURO
MIKEL GURREA (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award
Cast: Vicky Luengo, Pol López, Ilyass El Ouahdani
Ikusmira Berriak 2013

Helena and Ivan decide to make a new life for themselves amongst cork trees, but their different points of view on how to live on the land surface, challenging their future as a couple.

NEW DIRECTORS

A LOS LIBROS Y A LAS MUJERES CANTO / TO BOOKS AND WOMEN I SING
MARIA ELORZA (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Competes for the Kutxabank-New Directors Award
Competes for the Youth Award
Competes for the Irizar Basque Film Award

A woman was almost called Avioneta (Small Airplane) at birth. Another had a library in the back seat of her car. Yet another fractured her finger with the rebel shelves of her bookcase. Lectors read to cigar makers while they work. Women remember poems while they iron. And to them all I sing. Standing against fire, water, moths, dust, ignorance and fanaticism, an anonymous female army looks after books. An intimate resistance, lacking epic events, revolution or weapons.

ZABALTEGI-TABAKALERA

CUERDAS / CHORDS
Short film
ESTIBALIZ URRESOLA (SPAIN)
Country(ies) of production: Spain
Cast: Begoña Suarez, Miguel Garcés, Xanti Aguirrezabalaga, Jone Laspiur
Zinemira Kimuak

Rita belongs to a women’s choir on the point of breaking up because they have lost the municipal grant that allowed them to pay the rental on their rehearsal room. Now the group has to decide whether or not to accept sponsorship from one of the companies responsible for causing most pollution in the valley.

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