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Basque Production: Higher-Profile Titles at San Sebastian, or Coming Down the Pipeline

This year’s lineup demonstrates the growing breath of production, and ambition

A selection of Basque pictures, projects and productions in 2018:


Sayaka Producciones, Pokeepsie Films, La Panda Producciones and Setenta Invisibles L.P. AIE produce the next thriller from Basque genre specialist Koldo Serra (“The Backwoods”), starring Emma Suárez, Nathalie Poza and Hugo Silva. It features a desperate woman in need of $41,000, with two muggers in her way. Filmax handles world sales.


Maddi Barber’s latest explores the life chances left when a territory is completely altered by the construction of the Itoiz dam in the Navarrese Pyrenees. Selected by prestigious shorts program Kimuak, “Above” screens at the 9th Zinemira Basque film showcase and competes for the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Award.


Acquired by Entertainment One’s Seville International and produced by San Sebastian-based Sr. y Sra. and Madrid’s Morena Films, this film, starring Luis Tosar and Pilar Castro, marks Aritz Moreno’s feature debut, adapting Antonio Orejudo’s novel in a script penned by Javier Gullón (Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy”). Spanish release by Filmax.


Asier Altuna and Telmo Esnal follow-up to “Aupa Etxebeste,” the first full-length Basque-language feature to be made in 13 years. Irusoin, Kilima Media, Etxebeste Film AIE and France’s La Fidèle Production produce this story about a village major ceding his post to his wife, who will turn the city council on its head, as well as their marriage. Filmax sells.


A romcom road-movie following 30-year Ane, a journalist and travel writer wannabe whose dream exists in the doldrums of a grey reality. Second feature of Lara Izagirre (“An Autumn Without Berlin”) produced by Gariza Films. A project at Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum.


A portrait of the truth of war, recording the reaction of reporter Ryszard Kapuściński in Angola in 1975. Produced by Basque Country-based Kanaki Films and co-produced with Poland, Belgium, Germany and Hungary. Premiered at Cannes. Sold in Italy, Poland, Spain, Germany, France, U.K. Scandinavia & Baltic States, Benelux, Portugal and China by Indie Sales.


Arquetipo Comunicación produces this documentary on traditional Basque music ambassador Agus Barandian, who is forced to demolish his 1540 family farmhouse. Directed by Joaquín Calderón, it world premieres at San Sebastian’s Zinemira.


A musical portrait of ‘60s counterculture era directed by multi-hyphenate Fermín Muguruza and based on a graphic novel illustrated by Argentine Jorge Alderete. Produced by Basque Country’s Talka Records & Films and Catalonia’s Setmagic, feature world premieres as Zinemira’s closing night. Film Factory handles sales.


Iratxe Fresneda traces a personal journey through images and cinema, guided by filmmakers and artists like Theo Angelopoulos, Bego Vicario, Wim Wenders or Rut Hillarp, among others. A non-fiction road-movie, it’s the second part of a director’s series (“The Record Trilogy”), after “Echoing Calls.” Pimpi & Nella Films produces.


From prominent Basque director Telmo Esnal (“Aupa Etxebeste”), “Dantza” gets a Special Screening at San Sebastian, after last year winning the Industry Award at Glocal in Progress. Recasting traditional Basque dance in a natural cycle, the musical is produced by Txintxua Films, co-founded by director Asier Altuna (“Amama”).






Sophomore animation outing from Ángel Alonso (“The Thief of Dreams”) telling the adventures of Portugal’s Fernando de Magallanes and Basque Juan Sebastián Elcano, the leaders of the first circumnavigation of the earth, ending in 1522. Produced by Dibulitoon (“Yoko”), one of leading animation production houses in the Basque Country. Filmax represents sales.


Arena Comunicación-produced, and directed by Pablo Iraburu (“The Ridge,” “Nomadak”) and Jaime Murciego, this documentary narrates a singular expedition of six indigenous Bolivian women to climb Aconcagua in the Andes. Spain’s Filmsales handles international rights. Movistar + has taken pay TV rights.


Basque filmmaker, writer, musician Koldo Almandoz’s latest film after fiction-documentary essay “Ghost Ship” –an entry at last year’s Zabaltegi sidebar. “Deer” is a full-on narrative feature following Khalil, a young man who lives in the city’s outskirts, where industrial estates bank onto the river and marshes. “Deer” competes at San Sebastian’s New Directors showcase and will be released by Spanish arthouse distributors Golem Distribución.



A follow-up to Mikel Rueda’s short “Caminan,” the story of a generation-crossing relationship between a 16-year-old boy and a 45-year-old woman, starring Maribel Verdú. Filmax handles world rights; Baleuko and Sonora Estudios produce.


12 Basque filmmakers (among them Oskar Alegría, Asier Altuna, Fermín Muguruza and Maider Oleaga) direct this omnibus feature on the poems and short stories of Basque writer Joseba Sarrionandia. Adabaki Ekoizpenak, Elkar, Zenbat Gara, Gastibeltza produce. Sales: Atera Films.


A documentary directed by Antonio Díaz-Huerta and lensed by cinematographer Jon Aguirresarobe on a surfer left blind after an accident, who now aims to surf the biggest waves in Europe. Marmoka Films and Frida Films produce this Zinemira entry.


Josu Martinez pens,directs this doc on the unbelievable story of Lezo Urreiztieta, “a 17th century pirate, born by a mistake in 1907,” a smugglera and member of the Basque Nationalist Party and attempted several times to murder Franco. The film opens today’s Basque Cinema Gala at San Sebastian. Produced by Tentazioa Produkzioak and Gastibeltza Filmak. Sales: Atera Films.


His first short “Tracks” was co-produced by Aki Kaurismäki in 2012. Since then Kinoskopik Film Produktion co-founder Miguel Ángel Jiménez  has shot three features and is preparing a fourth, “Sumendia.”  “Kafenio,” a short, reflects on characters’ need not to give up. Set in an Athens sunk by brutal crisis. A Kimuak entry at Zinemira.


Next feature from Moriarti producer-director trio Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga (“Flowers,” “Giant”). Co-produced by Xabi Berzosa at Irusoin, La Claqueta, Trinchera Film AIE and France’s Manny Films. Penned by Luiso Berdejo and Goenaga, the film portrays Higinio Blanco who, fearing political reprisals, hides in his home – without realizing that he won’t leave until 33 years later. Film Factory sells, to be released in 2019.


“Everest” director Baltasar Kormákur –via his outfit RVK Studios– has inked with Bilbao-based Eduardo Carneros (“Timecrimes”) at Euskadi Movie AIE to co-produce this historical crime thriller set in 1616 Iceland inspired by Basque whalers flaunting a death sentence from Iceland’s ruler. Tornasol Films is also on board. Koldo Serra (“The Backwoods”)  directs. In development.


Amsterdam’s IDFA-premiered documentary asks if the charitable and contemplative lifestyle of 17 elderly Franciscan nuns will survive once thieir generation is gone. Ainara Vera directs. Co-produced by Arena Comunicación, Spanish broadcaster TVE and Norway’s Sant & Usant. International sales are handled by Switzerland’s First Hand Films. Sold to Austria’s Österreuchischer Rundfunk.


A poetic essay about Passolini, fireflies and the passage of time. In 1972 Pier Paolo Pasolini spoke of the disappearance of fireflies. A few months later he was murdered. Koldo Almandoz, Asier Altuna and Marian Fernández produce this new short from María Elorza, known along with Maider Fernández as “The Paisak Girls” (“Kalabegiak”). A Kimuakshort screening at Zinemira.


Intimate story of the hardships and dreams of Spanish cod fishermen during their golden years (1950-1980), trawling the tempestuous Canadian waters surrounding Newfoundland. Olivier Van Der Zee writes-directs this story fed by real Super 8 footage shot by the fishermen. Sincro Producción.


Premiered out of competition at Locarno, this film by Ana Schulz and Cristóbal Fernández depicts the friendship between Juan Gutiérrez, a mediator between the Basque Government and terrorist organization ETA, and Roberto Flórez, a former CNI (National Intelligence Center) agent convicted of treason, told by Gutiérrez’s daughter, Schulz. A production of Sr. y Sra. and Labyrint Films, selected as the Zinemira opening gala.


Argentine director Pablo Agüero – a Jury Prize winner in 2008 at Cannes with “Salamandra” and Silver Condor best director with “Eva Doesn’t Sleep”—directs this witchcraft thriller set in the Basque country in 1609. Presented at the 2017 San Sebastián Co-production Forum. Basque Sorgin Films, AIE, Lamia Producciones, Gariza Films, and Kowalski Films produce. In development. Avalon will distribute in Spain.

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