ETA and violence are reactivated in fiction


The last weeks have coincided in Gipuzkoa filming of two television series that originated from ETA and the long years of terrorism. 'Homeland', created by Aitor Gabilondo, radiography Basque society under violence, based on the successful novel by Fernando Aramburu. Y 'The invisible line', by Mariano Barroso, part of the "first member of the band to kill, and the first to die", Javier 'Txabi' Exebarrieta, as a starting point for the so-called years of lead. An issue that has been significantly treated in the cinema, almost in parallel with its development in real life, but that until now it had had little reflection in the series, as if television could only address the issue from the urgency of the news, the reports or the documentaries. This coincidence is a symptom that, more than seven years after the end of ETA's violence, it is easier to address issues related to terrorism or the so-called Basque 'conflict', which is a time to search with the distance it marks Time a global or calmer vision of what happened?

'Homeland', with his will to elaborate a microcosm in which the different points of view and the experiences of "those years that marked us all, everyone from their position" will be reflected, explains the scriptwriter and creator of the series Aitor Gabilondo , part of the friendship of two women (played by Elena Irureta and Ane Gabarain) that breaks with the murder of the husband of one of them and the militancy of the other's son. The good reception to Aramburu's novel, reflected in its sales success and in a certain consensus in considering it as a true reflection of the open gap and the accumulated suffering in Basque society, facilitated the path to adaptation in series, that has undertaken HBO, in eight chapters of one hour. If 'Vaya semanita' broke the taboo of being able to talk about terrorism and the so-called Basque conflict through comedy, 'Patria', whose filming will end this summer and will be released in 2020, confirms that the issue can match the serial format and television.


In the case of 'The invisible line', the director of cinema and series Mariano Barroso looks for the origins of ETA. Àlex Monner plays Txabi Etxebarrieta, who in 1968 shot the civilian traffic policeman José Antonio Pardines, who died of five shots to the torso. A few hours later, the aggressor himself was killed in a confrontation with the Civil Guard near Tolosa. Movistar produces this series of six 45-minute episodes based on an original idea by Abel García Roure and written by Alejandro Hernández and Michel Gaztambide, who recreates the Euskadi of the 60s. "We want to investigate the decisions that led a group of kids to take the step of taking up arms. This will not be a political documentary or a recreation of some facts, although we will be faithful to reality », explains Mariano Barroso.

From Carrero Blanco

Other actions of the band have taken the form of recreation fiction on the small screen. 'A bullet for the king', by Pablo Barrera and Manuel Valdivia, presented by Antena 3 in two chapters in 2009, reproduced the frustated attack by ETA that tried to end the life of King Juan Carlos in 1995. A couple of years later, TVE and ETB collaborated in the elaboration of 'The murder of Carrero blanco', another miniseries in two chapters that reconstructed the attack that cost the life of the government president during the Franco dictatorship, and that was precisely the first issue dealt by the cinema in relation to ETA, in 'Txikia Command' (1977) by José Luis Madrid and 'Operation Ogre' (1979) by Gillo Pontecorvo.

This format halfway between the short series and the TV movie also served to remember in the production of Antena 3 '48 hours' the last two days of Miguel Ángel Blanco's life, the councilor of Ermua murdered by ETA on July 12, 1997.

Images from the movie 'Lasa y Zabala' by Pablo Malo, above; the filming of 'El límite invisible' in San Sebastián, and Quim Gutiérrez playing Mario Onaindia in the series 'El precio de la libertad', by Ana Murugarren.

Some projects were paralyzed, perhaps as a symptom that even the fiction series format was not accommodated to these issues. There are the pretended series 'Aupa Josu', created by Borja Cobeaga, Diego San José and Juan Cavestany, in 2011, and of which only the pilot chapter was made, around a Basque Government adviser who wanted to become the architect of negotiations to achieve the end of ETA; or 'The price of freedom', biography of the politician Mario Onaindia, ex-member of ETA military politician who was one of the condemned in the Burgos process of 1970, made in 2011 by Ane Murugarren and presented at the San Sebastian Film Festival, but which was parked in the TVE archives in 2012, and did not arrive until last December.

«For six years it has been annoying for certain executives of the house», explains Ana Murugarren. "They did not want to link ETA with someone like Mario Onaindía, to whom Aznar posthumously awarded the Medal of the Order of Constitutional Merit. But what counts 'The price of Freedom' happened, like it or not. It tells the beginnings of what was the ETA of Mario Onaindía, his anti-Franco struggle, his death sentence in the process of Burgos, and also how he rejects his former colleagues after the arrival of democracy, how he tries to bring them to dissolution, something that almost gets. ETA pm dissolves in 82, but there followed an increasingly merciless military ETA. Mario Onaindía was sentenced to death by Franco and sentenced to death by ETA. This is what certain leaders of Spanish public television did not understand for so many years ».

With the same format of two chapters and also with Quim Gutiérrez as the protagonist, 'Cain's father' recreated in 2016 the Basque Country of the 80s and the story of a civil guard assigned to the Intxaurrondo barracks and committed to the fight against terrorism, based on a novel by Rafael Vera.

But it is at the cinema, through more than fifty feature films, where the journey of the terrorist band and the so-called Basque conflict has had a more constant presence, perhaps insufficient for those who demanded more commitment and more denunciation in the fight against terrorism and in the defense of the victims, and controversy almost always in the positions or the ways of seeing a complex drama that for so many years seemed to have no solution.

In his book 'Creators of shadows. ETA and Basque nationalism through cinema ', Santiago de Pablo points out that «in addition to some key facts of its history (such as the Burgos trial, the murder of Carrero Blanco or the murder of' Yoyes'), during the subsequent decades The death of Franco the cinema made special emphasis on the repressive excesses of the police in the fight against terrorism. Regardless of the fact that this has sometimes corresponded to reality -in a very different degree in each era-, the truth is that this cinematic vision could help to seek a point of balance between two symmetrical violence (that of ETA and that of the State ), giving a very partial view of the problem ». Documentaries as 'Murder in February', by Eterio Ortega Santillana, or the efforts of Iñaki Arteta through various films such as 'Thirteen among a thousand', have tried to give greater visibility to the victims and their families.

For Montxo Armendariz, "it is easier to create stories of fiction when certain events end, than when they are happening. Distance and less involvement make it possible to search for stories that capture these facts from different points of view. On the other hand, this greater facility to develop fiction stories is also observed in other similar situations where violence, or even war, has been present, such as the IRA, the Balkan War or Vietnam. "

Search the meeting

But the cessation of violence does not mean that the new narratives of 'conflict' are free of controversy, as the novel 'Patria' has not been. Aitor Merino made 'Asier eta biok' an original approach to their friendship since his time in the ikastola with Asier Aranguren, then a member of ETA who spent eight years in prison. A friendship that remained despite the enormous ideological and vital differences. In the film co-directed with her sister Amaia Merino, "we approach the subject looking for the meeting, but there are still many people who are not willing to move from their position, especially in Madrid, where I live," says Aitor. "When I look around, except for numerous exceptions, I would say that the rule is, unfortunately, misunderstanding." 'Asier eta biok' has not yet been aired on TVE, 'and it will not be because we have not tried it or because the film has not generated interest on the part of the public. The list of tripping that we have had on the part of the institutions is so long that it would need five pages ».

«You have to tell what happened, to turn the page first you have to read it»

«You have to tell what happened, to turn the page first you have to read it»
Ana Murugarren | Director of film and TV

«There must always be a positioning, there are no neutral images»

«There must always be a positioning, there are no neutral images»
Montxo Armendariz | Film director

«Those who got wet with ETA active, in any position, were brave»

«Those who got wet with ETA active, in any position, were brave»
Aitor Merino | Actor and film director

«Addressing violence with a free and own gaze was very risky»

«Addressing violence with a free and own gaze was very risky»
Daniel Calparsoro | Film director

Daniel Calparsoro, who made 'A Blind' (1997) with Najwa Nimri as a terrorist who wants to lay down his arms and in his first attack refuses to shoot the victim and shoots his comrade in the air, does not believe it was risky in itself to make films around ETA in the hard years of violence. "It was difficult and complex to deal with the issue because there were two opposite and equidistant points of view in society. A look of his own and free itself was very risky. On the other hand, financing a film without a clear speech against violence was extremely difficult. Addressing the issue of violence in an artistic way was something unwanted and misunderstood. In spite of everything, we managed to make the film with great inner and artistic satisfaction, and to compete in Venice, "explains the San Sebastian filmmaker. "It also coincided with a difficult situation that we went through at home, when we became the target of ETA."

"Of course it is easier to address the issue now that they no longer kill," says Ana Murugarren. «ETA was very scary. The theme gives for many movies and for many stories. In the Basque Country there is still a frontal confrontation between close people, between family, neighbors … The confrontation and the crisis are good for the cinema. And it is also necessary to tell it, to turn the page you have to read it ».

Brave task

For Aitor Merino, "when ETA was active, not only emotions were more to the surface, but the responsibility at the time of taking a position, as a creator, was much greater. What was at stake was too serious not to get wet. Who did it, I do not care from what ideological position and with what fortune, at least they were brave»

Even recent films as different as 'Faith of ETA members' (2017) or 'The son of the accordionist' (2019), filmmakers like Isaki Lacuesta have shown their interest in doing something about the subject. Daniel Calparsoro affirms that «it is a subject that is round my head and to which I will surely return». Ana Murugarren also has intentions in this regard, "although what I would have liked is to direct 'Patria'. The novel fascinated me ». As Montxo Armendariz, who prepares a film about an Auschwitz survivor, points out "the historical repetition of facts and mistakes we make over and over again", the problem is finding the point of view. "I think that positioning is always in any film, either consciously or unconsciously. All stories are told from a point of view, from a glance, which conditions what is seen and what is hidden. Neutral images do not exist, all have a meaning and sustain or fight certain ideas. And in this sense there is always, and there must be, in my opinion, a positioning. Another thing is that in the years of violence and the daily presence of attacks by ETA, these positions were more radical and more conscious, in one sense as in another ".

The Zinemaldia, boiling ground

Julio Medem still remembers what he suffered when he wanted to do in 'La pelota vasca' (2003) "a polyphony of voices" at a time when the "conflict" was at its maximum tension, and he found himself a riff-raider of accusations and adhesions that were staged at the premiere of the film in the Zinemaldia. Perhaps it was the high point of the controversies that almost always have generated in the Festival of San Sebastián the films that have touched the subject. From 'Días de humo' (1989) by Antxon Eceiza, accused of aber-tzale, to 'Tiro en la cabeza' (2008) by Jaime Rosales, misunderstood for her estrangement, or 'La casa de mi padre (2008) by Gorka Merchan, another attempt to gather all the positions. Even some films have been involved in the controversy for not having been selected by the Zinemaldia, as 'Windows to the interior' (2012) by Josu Martínez, about five ETA prisoners.

(tagsToTranslate) violence (t) reactivate (t) fiction


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