Irish Film Institute -Basque Ball—Skin Against Stone, The

Basque Ball—Skin Against Stone, The

Director: Julio Medem

(2003. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 110 mins.)

Julio Medem’s controversial film is a remarkable documentary about the Basques, their country, conflicts, language, culture and history. Shot in French, Castilian-Spanish and Basque, with a vast array of participants from novelist Bernardo Atxaga to musician Txetxo Bengoetxea, politicians Carlos Garaikoetxer and Felipe Gonzalez, and the forgotten many whose lives have been indelibly marked by violence or the threat of violence, this is a dizzyingly complex venture. In his telling engagement with the traditions of Basque documentary filmmaking, stylistic eye for compositional patterns and mercurial editing, Medem presents juxtapositions between the different voices and viewpoints, allowing a unique communication to emerge where there has previously been none. Both epic and intimate, Basque Ball brilliantly grounds this study of a particular geographical landscape into a far reaching contemplation of issues around identity and nationality, globalisation and local cultures, human rights and the nation-state, language and power, presence and absence.

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