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The documentary Bertsolari returns to the San Francisco Basque Cultural Center where a part of it was filmed



During its worldwide festival tour, the documentary Bertsolari will participate on September 15 in the San Francisco Latin Film Festival. The night before the film, with its director Asier Altuna, will be at the Basque Cultural Center, where a part of the film was recorded. It was in 2010 during a visit by bertsolaris Maialen Lujanbio and Andoni Egaña and since then, the board of the directors of the BCC has tried to bring the film to the center. Bertsolari is garnering critical acclaim and awards internationally and has gone to Brazil, France, the US, Austria…and in the next few months will also be made available in Mexico and Montevideo.

Donostia-San Sebastian.  Film director, Asier Altuna, will travel to the US next week to the San Francisco Latin Film Festival invited to present the film Bertsolari.  Taking advantage of the invitation the San Francisco Basque Cultural Center will also show it the film along with Asier Altuna there to present it.  It will be a special presentation since part of the film was recorded there in 2010, and this will be the first chance for Center members to see it.

“We were here with Maialen and Andoni in 2010 and since then we’ve continued to enjoy a good relationship with the euskal etxea. Friends like Philippe Acheritogaray have tried to bring the film, for example last year, when we were at the Chicago film festival, but it was impossible,” Asier Altuna explained to  Besides being shown at the Latin Film Festival and the BCC, it will also be shown at Stanford University.

International Success

The film debuted at the Donostia Film Festival in 2011, and throughout the year has been very well received all over the world.  “It began slowly,” says Altuna, “but little by little it started to take off.”  It received the Fortaleza, Brazil prize for photography last June as well being shown in France, Austria and the US.  Altuna is happy with the road that the film taking, even though it wasn’t done with Basques solely in mind but was meant, from the beginning, for “outsiders” to understand as well.

It was not an easy challenge.  Only Basque speakers could understand the words and so everyone else had only to understand the art – but the film also displays the poetry, excitement and emotion of the verses that connects with viewers.  The strength of film goes beyond language and culture in the end.


Bertsolari amildegia

[An image from Bertsolari]

And so Altuna tells the story, “When we presented it in Villafranca del Penedes festival (Catalonia), a man told us that he had never a better film on castellers.  We were dumbfounded, but we were invited by his group, Andoni Egaña and I and then we understood: Castellers [Catalan human towers] are those who are always on the cliff, facing risks.”

Wanting a screening in your euskal etxea

In October Bertsolari can be seen in Berlin at the Basque club as part of a Basque Film Festival.  From there it will then be shown in London, Montevideo and Mexico since it has been invited to film festivals in those locations.  However, Altuna emphasizes that he wants to show the film to Basques in the Diaspora in their Basque clubs.  “Some clubs have gotten in touch with us and as far as we are concerned, we are ready to organize something.”


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