La Pelota Vasca is the
kind of smart and discursive, politically driven cinema that is rare.
One of Spain's leading filmmakers, Julio Medem, its director, is known
for his complex and sometimes daring narratives. But in this political
essay on the Basque nationalist movement, he has taken chances that go
far beyond transgressions against fictional form or sexual mores. Its
screening at the San Sebastian Film Festival in the heart of Basque
country generated huge controversy and criticism, especially from both
the ETA (the Basque terrorist group) and the Spanish government. And
despite its dense analysis of the history and cultural issues that make
the situation difficult for outsiders to grasp fully, La Pelota Vasca is
a film that can be appreciated by anyone interested in world and
Featuring some 70 interviews with figures ranging from Basque political
leaders to academics and writers, from victims of the political violence
to outside activists in international peace movements and conflict
resolution, this film is not your typical comprehensive study, for it
unquestionably has a point of view and focuses a purposeful eye toward a
political solution. Above all, it is a film of resounding clarity and
intelligence, a stimulating study of Basque nationalism and possible
pathways to nonviolent resolution.
2003, directed by
Julio Medem, 110 min, color, in Euskara & Spanish with English subtitles.
Presented by Dr. Joseba
Gabilondo - Center for Basque Studies, UNR.
From the day he was born in 1958, Julio Médem was constantly playing
around with his father's Super8 Camera. Following a privileged
upbringing, he went on to study medicine but never lost that constant
nagging feeling that his true passion for film stirred in him. During
the 1970's and 1980's, Médem got his feet wet directing short films,
constantly learning, and writing full-length screenplays that he hoped
to one day direct.
1992 saw the premiere of Julio Médem's first full-length film, Vacas,
for which critics immediately - and correctly - coined him as the next
big force in Basque & Spanish film making. Naming him the cinematic heir
to Spanish greats like Luis Buñuel, Iván Zulueta, and Víctor Erice,
Médem certainly has not disappointed. Boasting admirers around the globe
like Steven Spielberg, he's considered one of the most original,
important, and promising directors of Basque & Spanish cinema.