In 2016, Wrocław is a European Capital of Culture, sharing the title with the Basque city of San Sebastián, which is why the program for this year's edition of the Wrocław-based T-Mobile New Horizons Film Festival (July 21-31) features cinema from the Basque Country. Thanks to cooperation between the two cultural capitals, a review will be shown called Basque Cinema: Three Generations of Directors, which will include selected films by leading filmmakers from the region. There will also be a retrospective of the work of one of the most interesting artists from the Basque Country, Víctor Erice.
The review of cinema from the Basque Country at New Horizons will include about a dozen films from the 1970s up to the present, from classic genre films to cinema in search of new experimental forms, thus providing a multidimensional portrait of Basque culture, with its different language and traditions, as well as its difficult history, which has been marked by a number of bloody attacks. The first generation of Basque filmmakers who emphasized their distinctiveness emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Among the films made at that time were Montxo Armendariz's Tasio (1984), a fictional take on the life of Anastasia Ochoy, the last of Basque coal dealers to use traditional coal-burning techniques, and Rapture (Arrebato, 1979), an example of Spain's cult punk cinema by the late "cursed filmmaker" Iván Zulueta (2009), a friend of Pedro Almodóvar's and the designer of some of the posters for the latter's films. The film presents a vision of a man slipping into self-destruction, as well as an image of cinema as a fascinating vampire. The generation that entered the world of film in the 1990s will be represented in Wroclaw by, among others, Juanma Bajo Ulloa, with his Butterfly Wings (Alas de mariposa, 1991), winner of a Golden Seashell in San Sebastián, a refined, artistic tale about a family obsessed with having a male heir; the only female director in the group, Helena Taberna, with her portrait of the most famous member of ETA, Yoyes (1999); and one of the Basque Country's best-known filmmakers, Julio Medem, the maker of the acclaimed film Vacas (1992), which tells the story of a long-standing feud between two families dispassionately observed by successive generations of cows. Finally, we have the generation of filmmakers that made their debut around 2000 or later and who make conscious references to their Basque roots, including Roberto Caston, whose film Ander (2009), called the Basque Brokeback Mountain, an award winner at the Berlinale, about the fascination of the eponymous farmer's young farmhand; and Jose Mari Goenaga and Jon Garaño, the directors of the psychological drama Flowers (Loreak, 2014), the first-ever film in Basque to be nominated as the Spanish candidate for an Oscar. Helena Taberna, Montxo Armendáriz, and Juanma Bajo Ulloa will be guests at the Festival in Wrocław.
The review will be expanded with a presentation of the works of Víctor Erice, a maker of original, artistically expressive films somewhere between features, film essays, and documentaries. He also made one of the most important films in Spanish cinematic history, The Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la Colmena, 1973), which comes to terms with the Franco era, and featuring a phenomenal performance by Ana Torrent. Erice will also show his other feature films, including El Sur (1983), an intimate story about loss based on a novel by Adelaida Garcia Morales; The Quince Tree Sun (El sol de membrillo, 1992), about painter Antonio López García, the patron of Spanish hyperrealism. The retrospective will also feature short films such as a recording of Erice's correspondence with Abbas Kiarostami, one of Iran's classic filmmakers, Víctor Erice-Abbas Kiarostami: Correspondence (2006, originally made as part of a multimedia installation for the Centre de Cultura de Barcelona Contemporània).