Beltza” graphic novel
Courtesy of Talka Records & Films

Summerside Intl. acquires “Nola?” Muguruza’s latest work, which world-premiered at this week’s San Sebastian Fest

SAN SEBASTIAN — Talka Records & Films and Catalonia’s Setmagic Audiovisual are teaming  to produce adult animation feature “Black is Beltza,” which marks the fiction film debut of the Basque multi-hyphenate artist, one of the most individual of Basque talents.

The production announcement comes as Muguruza’s latest work “Nola?,” world preemed Tuesday 20 at San Sebastian in the Zinemira Basque Country sidebar. “Nola?” explores New Orleans -its music, people, death  culture – ten years on from the hurricane Katrina through a singular music fusion of New Orleans rhythms with Muguruza’s Basque funk-rock.

Launched at Berlin’s European Film Market this year,— Summerside International, Amsterdam-based Francesca Manno and Nicola Tassoni’s sales house, has taken all international rights for “Nola?,” closing the deal at the San Sebastian Fest.

“Black is Beltza” kicks off in October 1965 when a group of giants and carnival heads, inspired by seventeenth century parades in Pamplona, is  invited to march down New York’s 5th Avenue on Hispanic Day. But the figures of two black giants are not invited to the parade. Debarring from this true-event, which happened  a few months after Malcolm X’s death the story turns on Manex, a young Basque who travels to New Yorkto walk inside one of the carnival giants.

Manex will be an inadvertent witness to some of the most remarkable events and actors from the last decades: Racial riots, the Black Panthers, the Cuban Revolution, Cold War spy games, which all make for a colourful portrait of the ’60s counterculture era.

The New York carnival parade episode “fascinated me, but after an ellipsis, I set all the action in a five-month period crucial for me: From the Six-Day War in June 1967 through to Che Guevara’s murder in Bolivia on Oct. 10,” Muguruza told Variety.

Designs for the 2D animation on “Black is Beltza” will be made by on-the-rise Barcelona-based comic designer Josep Homs, author of  Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy comic adaptation.

Some ‘60s legends appear via their music or directly in the story including Andy Warhol’s Velvet Underground, Malcolm X, James Brown, Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro, Mexican Tin Tan, Algeria’s Cheika Rimitti, James Brown, Otis Redding and Jimmy Hendrix. And of course, the CIA, the Mossad, the ‘60s sexual revolution and psychedelic drugs will be there as well, Muguruza added.

“Beltza” was originally a movie screenplay but then became a graphic novel illustrated by Argentine Jorge Alderete.

One of the Basque Country’s most prolific cultural activists, Muguruza, is also a well-known musician, singer and record producer, has directed 16 documentaries, 11 of them for the Al Jazeera Documentary Channel about Arab countries’ music. A mock-documentary, “Zuloak” (“Holes”), premiered as a Zabaltegi Special Screening at 2012’s San Sebastian.

Production begins this month. “Black is Beltza” will be ready for delivery in 2018.

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