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Kimuak 20 Years: Cinemattic Cult Classics from the Basque Country

at CCA

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A laid-back evening celebrating what the passion and creativity found in Basque short film cinema.

Image of Kimuak 20 Years: Cinemattic Cult Classics from the Basque Country
Image from Éramos pocos by Borja Cobeaga

CinemaAttic and Kimuak’s two-week-long collaboration came to a close on Thursday night with a celebration of the Basque country’s history of short films. Featuring eight shorts taken from the past 20 years, the evening looked back at some of the “cult classics” that helped define Basque short films, paving the way for the Kimuak initiative’s success.

In true Spanish style, the chilld-out event started half an hour after it was scheduled to,  with an unprepared albeit amusing introduction from the programme organisers. Yet the films screened tonight proved that Spain – and the Basque country, in particular – have a lot to offer the short film industry. That much is evident in the award-winning cortos like Traumalogía, directed by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, yet also in the animated short La gallina ciega (Blind Man’s Buff) that opened the evening. Reminiscent of Picasso’s work in terms of the vivid use of colour and geometric shapes, La gallina ciega was also striking in the way it challenged how we interpreted space and sound around us. This was then followed by Sintonía (Wavelength), an unconventional love story by Jose Mari Goenaga, which had nostalgic advert-feel to it. 

In creating this line up, Kimuak and CinemaAttic strived for variety in every sense of the word. No short is the same length – one being 16 minutes long and another only three. There were shorts performed in Spanish, Euskara (Basque) and even French – La guerra (War) being the most gripping piece of the night. That said, many of these films come together in reflecting the unique humour that Spanish film often has. Bold and bizarre, both Traumalogía and Éramos pocos (translated as One Too Many) leave you in first in disbelief, baffled by innumerable WTF moments. Unafraid to be a little out there, these films show how the Spanish are always willing to take a risk, and are not afraid to make a fool of themselves. In fact, it’s interesting to note that these two films take a swipe at Spain’s traditional machista society.

It was also wonderful to see some of the first Basque short films created, seeing the art form evolve (or ‘sprout’, if we think of the meaning behind Kimuak as a name). Asier Altuna and Telmo Esnal‘s 1997 short Txoxt is very much the “rural surrealism” promised before its screening, with the film’s subject matter again highlighting Spain’s eccentric humour. Together with Topeka, also by Altuna, these two Basque-dominated productions (Txoxt being the only film delivered in euskara) were worthy additions to the night’s line-up, confirming the underrepresented Spanish region’s affinity for short film.   

Being the first Spanish organisation to celebrate short film as an art form, Kimuak has a lot to be proud of. This is evident in the passion of the men who have organised the event, and it will fascinating to see how far this initiative goes.