SAN SEBASTIAN — Since the 1950s, Spain has been a favorite European shooting locale. One of the biggest reasons remains its easily accessible, unique and diverse locations.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this past June, the Navarre Film Commission kicked off a traveling exhibition which has been touring Spain over the summer and will present in San Sebastian during this year’s festival.
A tribute to the diversity of locations that exist in Navarra – including castles, deserts, mountains and lush temperate forests – the exhibition shines a spotlight on 18 such locations used by international and domestic film and TV shoots over the past few decades, as well as the productions themselves.
With medieval castles and fortifications a-plenty, Navarre has long been a favorite for historical and fantasy shoots. The most recently recognizable and widely seen, the Bardenas canyon badlands, played host to the Dothraki hordes and their Khalisi in “Game of Thrones.” Artajona’s medieval fortress set the stage for Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in 1976’s “Robin and Marian” and Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” shot in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hilltop town of Gallipienzo.
Spain’s world-famous Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage undertaken by thousands each year who hike across northern Spain to the shrine of the apostle Saint James in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, was the setting for Emilio Estevez’s “The Way.” Jacques Audiard filmed in Navarre the John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix vehicle “The Sisters Brothers,” a four-time French academy César Award and Venice Silver Lion winner, shot in the Urbasa mountain range.
Russian production “Legend Nº17,” about Soviet hockey player Valeri Kharlamov, shot in Pitillas, while just this year Chinese production “Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy” recorded scenes in both Tafalla and Pamplona.
In 1997, international Oscar nominated “Secrets of the Heart” was filmed in Ochagavía and in 2013 Leitza played host to one of Spain’s most popular film franchises, “Ocho Apellidos Vascos.” Alex de la Iglesias’s cult classic “Witching and Bitching” filmed in and took its name from the infamous town in which it is based, and where the 7th century Basque witch trials were held. The film’s Spanish title, “Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi” translates literally to “The Witches of Zugarramurdi.” Félix Viscarret’s Spanish Academy Goya winning “Under the Stars” was filmed on the border of Navarre, La Rioja and Álva in the exquisite castle town of Estella.
Other featured locations in the exhibit include Aldatz (“Cuande Dejes de Quererme”), Elizondo (“The Invisible Guardian”), Iranzu (Movistar+ series “Conquistadores Adventvm”), Marcilla (“Remember Me”), Pamplona (“Los Japón”), San Fermín (“¡Fiesta!”) and Ustarroz (“Lo Nunca Visto”).
“This exhibition is a way of thanking all the people that contributed to the story of Navarre and its film industry,” Navarre Film Commission head Javier Lacunza told Variety. “We have selected a diverse number of locations which highlight the importance of the movies or the series which shot there as well as the different landscapes and areas of our homeland used to do so.”
More than just a thank you to the region however, the exhibition is being used as a promotion tool as well. After San Sebastian it will head south, before embarking on an international tour. Details on the tour are still under wraps, but it will run until June 2020.
“The commitment of the government of Navarra for the development of the sector is clear and determined,” said Film Commission’s Sara Sevilla. “In 2016 creative and digital industries were included within the strategic specialization of the Navarra government with the objective of promoting intelligent, sustainable and inclusive economic growth within those industries.”
At the end of 2018, 28 feature films had shot in the territory. So far in 2019 more than 50 feature film and series projects have already partnered with the film commission, with more to come in the fall and early winter months.