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Author: Rob Stone

This account of the life and films of the Spanish-Basque filmmaker Julio Medem is the first book in English on the internationally renowned writer-director of Vacas, La ardilla roja (Red Squirrel), Tierra, Los amantes del círculo polar (Lovers of the Arctic Circle), Lucía y el sexo (Sex and Lucía), La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra (Basque Ball) and Caótica Ana (Chaotic Ana). Initial chapters explore Medem's childhood, adolescence and education, and examine his earliest short films and critical writings against a background of a dramatically changing Spain. Later chapters provide accounts of the genesis, production and release of Medem's challenging and sensual films, which feed into analyses of their meanings, both political and personal, in which the author draws on traditions and innovations in Basque art, Spanish cinema and European philosophy to create a portrait of the director and his work.

From Goya’s dining room via Apocalypse Now
Jo Evans

. 8 I am grateful to the British Academy for funding research towards this chapter. Bibliography Angulo , Jesús and José Luis Rebordinos ( 2004 ) Contra la certeza: El cine de Julio Medem , Huesca: Festival de Cine de Huesca, Filmoteca Vasca. Beck , Jay ( 2000 ) ‘Mediating the

in Spanish cinema 1973–2010
Rob Stone

1 Author, auteur, Aitor Author ‘I think my best work is still to come. Truly’, says Julio Medem in what is an open-ended conclusion to his last interview for a book about him [5]. Nevertheless, he already enjoys a reputation in Basque, Spanish, European and even World cinema for the colourful eroticism, subjective camerawork, elaborate plotting, structural equations, straight-faced absurdity and obsessions with symmetry, duality and chance that characterise the films he has written and directed. Vacas (1992), La ardilla roja (Red Squirrel, 1993), Tierra (1996

in Julio Medem
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The making of Medem
Rob Stone

del Círculo Polar. He was survived by Medem’s Valencian grandmother, who is recalled as Elena the Valencian cook in Lucía y el sexo, who took her son, Julio Medem San Juan, out of a German boarding school and the Hitler Youth to bring her children back to Spain and the Nationalist zone of Madrid at a time when the country and its cities were fragmenting into Republican and Nationalist territories. By 28 March 1939, when Francoist forces marched into Madrid, the Civil War was over and the city was in ruins. Meanwhile, Medem’s mother, Margarita Lafont Mendizábal grew

in Julio Medem
Vacas (1992)
Rob Stone

Sacristan, none of which are remembered with much affection, if at all. 38 Julio Medem The shooting script of Vacas is credited to Michel Gaztambide Muñoz and Julio Medem Lafont and is dated 29 July 1991 in Medem’s hometown of Amasa in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa. Vacas tells of a feud that rages between three generations of two rival Basque families, the Irigibels and the Mendiluzes, beginning with the second Carlist War of the nineteenth century, in which the Basque defence of the Fueros (laws based on a privilege of autonomy that had protected the Basque

in Julio Medem
Abstract only
Rob Stone

assistant Silvia Gómez, for one, was convinced that his next project would be ‘a comedy called Caótica Ana , although he doesn’t know it yet’ [7]. 208 Julio Medem Later, Medem explained that Caótica Ana was a film about reincarnation in which the eponymous Ana was based on his real-life sister, who had also been the inspiration for Ana in Los amantes del Círculo Polar and, following her death, for Lucía in Lucía y el sexo too: Wherever she goes, Ana disorganises what’s organised. She disorders order but is completely unaware. She’s the type of person who leaves a wake

in Julio Medem
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Lucía y el sexo (2001)
Rob Stone

, however, both Suárez and Gómez are reticent to discuss what might have been. Suárez 152 Julio Medem remembers the original idea was ‘a little co-operative project’ [14] but that Medem had trouble securing funding and its filming kept on being delayed. Gómez says he liked the original script: It had a lot to do with Julio, of course. Its world was essentially his, like always, but it was about four characters isolated on an island, not this baroque world he made up later with all these connections to sex, where it turns out that in order to make it work he had to show

in Julio Medem
La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra (2003)
Rob Stone

perhaps facing up to middle age and the mantle of responsible fatherhood that had 180 Julio Medem been left vacant by the death of his own. In creating the character of Aitor, Medem was also haunted by the figure of the grandfather Manuel Irigibel in Vacas, whose children and grandchildren had been torn between two rival families. Like Manuel, Aitor was a character who thrashed against the suffocating traditions of Basque masculinity that are integral to notions of Basque identity and nationhood, but whereas the effort turned Manuel insane, Aitor’s superior strength

in Julio Medem
Tierra (1996)
Rob Stone

5 That part of you that died: Tierra (1996) Just as the autonomous Basque government of the 1980s had subsidised Basque filmmakers such as Imanol Uribe, Daniel Calparsoro and Julio Medem as a means of creating a credible notion of Basque cinema, so in the 1990s did Sogetel (renamed Sogecine in 1997) invest in projects that might realise the company’s ambitions for international success. This strategy was predicated on the auteurist credentials of filmmakers such as Álex de la Iglesia (El día de la bestia [1995], Perdita Durango [1997]), Fernando Trueba (Two

in Julio Medem
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Los amantes del Círculo Polar (1998)
Rob Stone

anarchic democratic Spain, but the traditions and conventions of Basque cinema to which Medem subscribes are more about maintaining a peripheral stance that tallies with ideas of aesthetic as well as political separatism. Núria Triana Toribio states that ‘Julio Medem’s cinema can be understood as an instrument by which the discourse that locates the Spanishness of Spanish cinema in high art and the intellectual traditions of the country is maintained’ (2003: 149), but such a typical view ignores the Basqueness of Basque cinema and its relevance to films that are often

in Julio Medem