Amazon Prime Video hosted a San Sebastian press conference for its new Spanish docu-series “The Challenge: ETA,” sharing a new trailer for the program and announcing that the series will be made available to stream around the world on Oct. 30.
The well-attended panel, also streamed on San Sebastian’s website, was hosted by Oscar Prol, head of Spanish unscripted originals, Amazon Studios, Luis Velo, executive producer at Atar TV, and series director Hugo Stuven.
One of a series of high-profile productions to come out this year examining the violent conflict between the Basque Country’s ETA armed resistance group and the Spanish government, it joins the likes of Movistar Plus’ “La Linea Invisible,” launched earlier this year to rave reviews and massive audience numbers, and HBO’s “Patria,” one of the highest profile titles, film or series, playing at this year’s festival.
“The Challenge: ETA” is based on Manuel Sánchez Corbí and Manuela Simón’s book “Historia de un desafío” (History of a Challenge), which goes into great detail to tell the story of the Spanish Civil Guard’s half-century fight against ETA. Production took the better part of a year, including a lengthy pre-production, 20 weeks of shooting, and nearly six months of intense editing.
Interviews included in the series feature four former Spanish presidents: Felipe González, José María Aznar, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Mariano Rajoy, who frequently squared off with the organization during their terms.
Other contributors include former Basque regional leaders Carlos Garaikoetxea and José Antonio Ardanza, former head of the Royal Household Fernando Almansa, as well as journalists active during the era and senior military officials including Manuel Sánchez Corbi.
In total, 83 individuals with first-hand knowledge of the conflict are featured in the series.
“I wish there didn’t have to be controversy on this subject but being sensible we know there will be,” Velo explained when asked about the likely mixed response the show will get when it’s launched. “We worked hard to get to the bottom of this subject, which includes some shocking testimonies that will undoubtedly be controversial.”
“We tried to forget about the controversy and focus on the truth,” added Stuven. “We came at it with a sensitivity and a rigor to tell this story based on the facts of what happened. The stories of the people who were there. Surely there will be people that don’t like the series for whatever reason, but they won’t be able to say it’s untruthful.”
Being truthful means holding all parties accountable, and there are many still today who have not yet forgiven the Spanish government for their part in the conflict.
In 1983, the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL) was formed, considered by many to be little more than state-sponsored death squads. A driving force behind the government’s well documented state terrorism, GAL carried out dozens of attacks around the Basque Country, killing dozens, including several civilians.
“We integrated that information just as we did every other milestone in the conflict’s history,” said Prol. “It’s all included. Felipe Gonzalez (Spanish prime minister over 1982-96) himself even speaks about the state terrorism and the formation of the GAL.”