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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.

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

8 Framing fearful symmetry: La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra (2003) The crack of a hard rubber ball against a concrete wall is the opening shot of Medem’s documentary La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra. The sound is an aural symbol, an onomatopoeic metaphor for a notion of the suffering ‘skin’ of the Basque people and the intransigent ‘stone’ of the Basque conflict. La pelota vasca is a polyphonic patchwork of speakers on this subject, whose range of perspectives and depth of feeling are interwoven in an inclusive montage that, in terms of

in Julio Medem
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The performance of Gypsy and Basque songs in relation to film form
Rob Stone

(Motherland, Néstor Basterretxea and Fernando Larruquert, 1968) and La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra (Basque Ball, Julio Medem, 2003). The songs are not merely performed in these films and they do not only punctuate the narrative; rather, they influence the rhythm, structure, tone and time (or duration) of the films to such an extent that the shape of the films must be recognised as an aesthetic response to the ‘events

in Screening songs in Hispanic and Lusophone cinema
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Carrie Hamilton

the postnationalist vision presented by Juaristi, along with Juan Aranzadi and Patxo Unzueta in their collection of essays Auto de terminación.14 Smith finds a parallel to the postnationalist project of Savater, Juaristi and company in the films of Basque-Spanish director Julio Medem. It is worth considering this connection in some detail because Medem’s 2003 documentary on the Basque conflict, La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra (Basque Ball: Skin Against Stone) clearly reveals the overlap between the gender politics of nationalism and those of postnationalism

in Women and ETA
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Rob Stone

9 Work in progress By April 2004, La pelota vasca was still causing aftershocks and reflection in all who had participated in its production. Koldo Zuazua was ‘content, but not proud; actually rather disturbed’ [13] while Medem declared ‘it’s very ironic, but thanks to the Partido Popular I can now pay all my debts’ [5]. Moreover, the debate about the Basque conflict had extended beyond Spain as the film played in international festivals. Meanwhile, a somewhat reclusive Medem saw out his prior commitments by filming television advertisements for an electric

in Julio Medem
Rob Stone

), Los amantes del Círculo Polar (Lovers of the Arctic Circle, 1998), Lucía y el sexo (Sex and Lucía, 2001) and the documentary La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra (Basque Ball: The Skin against the Stone, 2003) have gained him festival prizes, complex distribution strategies, quality DVD editions of his films, the backing of Spain’s media giant Sogecine, a belated and problematic reputation as a political filmmaker and an increasing degree of autonomy that comes from co-financing his own features and making use of new technologies such as high definition digital

in Julio Medem
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The making of Medem
Rob Stone

-language cinema but is diverted by questions of funding before concluding that ‘ya por el proceso de identificación nacional, ya como instrumento para exportar nuestra cultura, el cine vasco necesita urgentemente descubrirse, llegar a su mayoría de edad’ (1983a: 29) (Basque cinema urgently needs to define itself, to come of age for the sake of national identity and the exportation of our culture). Above all else, this article is indicative of Medem’s Romantic commitment to his Basqueness, which was commonly considered latent until La pelota vasca, when his opponents signalled

in Julio Medem
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La ardilla roja (1993)
Rob Stone

against his angel in Tierra, Otto and Ana in Los amantes del Círculo Polar, Lorenzo and Lucía in Lucía y el sexo and all the myriad interviewees in La pelota vasca, Medem’s protagonists all stake a claim on truth through their subjectivity. La ardilla roja renders the courtship of two free-wheeling fabulists through such point-of-view shots, whereby Medem’s sensual way with a sinister premise allows a couple’s fantasies of perfect partners to become real through their emotional investment in their subjective views of each other. Juxtaposed subjectivities can create an

in Julio Medem
patterns of the past in Vacas/Cows
David Archibald

Catalina; and, finally, Peru and Cristina (or their ghosts) as they attempt their escape at the film’s conclusion. Vacas, therefore, presents a somewhat bleak perspective on human existence, representing the civil war as part of an ongoing process of conflict and violence; one embedded within the vagaries of human nature itself and within Basque history and politics. ‘Basqueness’ Medem’s relationship with both the Basque country and Basque cinema was highlighted at the 2003 San Sebastián/Donostia Film Festival with the screening of his film La pelota Vasca: La

in The war that won't die
Remixed Transition (1973–82)
Nuria Triana Toribio

it was not: not another comedia casposa (lit. comedy with dandruff) 6 that pokes fun by using tasteless images of the retrograde and pre-democratic elements still lurking in Spain. It was similarly not a film that would ostensibly upset the right-wing government by putting forward a different point of view about latent political issues (such as La pelota vasca: la piel contra la piedra [Basque Ball, Julio Medem, 2003

in Screening songs in Hispanic and Lusophone cinema