×

HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.”

A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series.

The panel sneak-peek was attended by “Patria” creator and writer Aitor Gabilondo (“El Príncipe”), actresses Elena Irureta and Ane Gabarain, who play the leads, the series HBO producers Miguel Salvat and Steve Matthews, head of development HBO Europe.

“Patria” weighs in as HBO’s signature Spanish series. It was HBO’s first series announced out of Spain, two years ago on the eve of 2017’s San Sebastian Festival, when it was still in development.

That development proved characteristically lengthy.

“Steve worked with Aitor on the development of the scripts from a distance,” Salvat said in San Sebastian. “He hadn’t read the book as it wasn’t published yet in English. For us the development is the most important part, it is the foundation of what we are building.”

Matthews commented: “This is a very complex book. I think this book is about armed conflict, but it’s also about memory, aging, forgiving and forgetting.”

Also indicative is the series’ artistic ambition, enhancing the HBO viewing experience for Spaniards and beyond as a small-screen adaptation of Fernando Aramburu’s 646-page novel, published in 2016 and one of the most acclaimed takes on the biggest conflict in the recent history of Spain.

Equally characteristically, “Patria,” slated for release in 2020, turns on character.

“The personal aspect is key to the series,” says “Patria” producer Miguel Salvat.

“Patria” focuses on a 60something woman, Bittori, who has cancer, who returns to her native village in the Basque Country Gipuzkoa and seeks reconciliation with her best friend, after they were torn part by the Basque conflict.

“Patria’ is not about ETA. It’s a journey towards an embrace,” Gabilondo told the Spanish press at San Sebastian.

“The novel describes how normal people lived, people who weren’t politicians, in the military nor police, nor terrorists,” Gabilondo told Variety.

“It turns on the suffering on the street, how everybody was worried about what was going out, and didn’t talk, couldn’t really comment, or feel, without running the risk of being said to be on this side of the fence, and being used.”

“‘Patria’ isn’t so much about a fact,” he added. “Everybody knows the Chernobyl reactor blew up. The series is more about the wound or wounds that something left, which fiction can maybe do better than journalism.”

“We show that violence destroys everything. Violence and the victims, it harms both sides. Relationships, self esteem, everything is destroyed,” said Gabilondo. The series “focuses on what moved me most about the novel,” he added.”We have two sisters, very normal women in a small and normal town. For it to be representative, we had to show what they lived, when they split up and how they end in an embrace.”

He added: “We wanted to show themes from two points of view. What interested me about the story is that it’s about two families both with whom we could identify.”

A silence fell over the audience as Salvat and Gabilondo revealed the first images ever seen from the series. In what will be the series’ title sequence, Bittori runs towards an inert body – her husband Taxto’s – on a bridge under pouring rain. She screams in anguish for help, but nobody in her own native village comes to help her. Her solitude, and the hostility of the village, is plain.

In a second sequence shown at San Sebastian, a detainee, ETA member Joxe Mari, Miren’s son, is bound naked on a floor as police come into the interrogation room chatting. blithe to his predicament. about the coffee, and other tittle-tattle.

Another show reel showed the characters at the two major time periods in the series. The contrast is telling, sometimes shocking. Bittori appears in present wizened by cancer, Joxe Mari, Miren’s son, appears in the present a seemingly broken pot-bellied middle-aged man. An arrogant, confident, challenging young woman, Aeantxa is seen after a stroke reduced to a wheel chair, half her face paralyzed, mouth drooping.

“What we’re interested in is telling stories from new points of view. Shuttling between past and present, the first four episodes, which established the production design, were directed by Felix Viscarret.

Another video underscored the challenges of recreating the past, more particularly riots in the old part of San Sebastian as a bus is set on fire, and police charge rock and molotov cocktail throwing young ETA supporters.

A final clip mixed scenes from the series’ past and present: Miren and Bittori being escorted of a bus, and realizing that Joxe Mari is among young Basque rioters, having thought he had nothing to do with the conflict; Miren and Arantxa arguing bitterly; a scene in a prison; a shot of Bittori in her home hearing gun-shots, fearing immediately what has happened, and then running towards the body, camera behind her, then turning over Taxto’s body, his face awash in blood.

Each period uses different lenses,framing and color designs. The present is shot in a more composed static manner, with wider frames showing more physical context. The past is more convulsive, the camera closing in tighter on characters.

More TV

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

  • Science Fair

    Disney Plus Fleshes Out Nonfiction Slate, Including 'Howard,' 'Science Fair,' Mickey Mouse Docu

    Disney Plus further fleshed out its nonfiction content slate at an International Documentary Association showcase event Friday, as the streamer, preparing for its Nov. 12 launch, continues to flesh out its programming strategy. Among the announcements: The streamer has acquired the global distribution rights to “Howard,” the Don Hahn-directed documentary about “Aladdin” and “Beauty and [...]

  • South Park Phone Destroyer

    Bidding War for 'South Park' U.S. Streaming Rights Could Hit $500 Million

    A bidding tussle for domestic streaming rights to Comedy Central’s long-running, irreverent animated series “South Park” may result in a deal as large as $500 million for cable parent Viacom and show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Bloomberg first reported news of the impending deal, pointing to a closing date as soon as this [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    AT&T's Ad-Tech Unit Xandr Buys Clypd To Help Place TV Commercials More Precisely

    Xandr, the AT&T ad-technology unit, has purchased a new company that helps advertisers use data to place commercials in front of the audiences most likely to want to watch them The AT&T division said Friday it had acquired clypd, a company that helps advertisers move forward in a growing desire by Madison Avenue to run [...]

  • HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE

    'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Renewed for Season 2 at Disney Plus

    It may not have even premiered yet, but Disney Plus has handed out a second season renewal for “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Inspired by the “High School Musical” movies, the series was created and is executive produced by Tim Federle, and stars Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie, Larry Saperstein, Julia [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Mackenzie Davis Himesh Patel

    Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel to Star in 'Station Eleven' Series at HBO Max

    Mackenzie Davis and Himesh Patel have been cast in the lead roles of HBO Max’s upcoming “Station Eleven” series adaptation. The show is based on the book of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel. Described as a postapocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, the series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content