2004 Program



La Pelota Vasca

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 national struggles.

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.



Saturday, May 8th, 7:00pm, Basque Cultural Center

Free Admission.

Basque Cultural Center, 599 Railroad Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080






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.