San Sebastian Film Festival Stands By Selection Of Film Featuring Interview With Former ETA Terror Org Leader Josu Urrutikoetxea

San Sebastian Film Festival Stands By Selection Of Film Featuring Interview With Former ETA Terror Org Leader Josu Urrutikoetxea

The San Sebastian Film Festival has issued a statement standing by its decision to screen a film about Josu Urrutikoetxea, the former leader of the Basque separatist militant group ETA.

The documentary entitled No me llame Ternera revolves around an exclusive interview between renowned Spanish journalist Jordi Évole and Urrutikoetxea, who goes by the nickname of Josu Ternera.

Over its 60-year history, ETA killed 883 people as part of its campaign to create a separate Basque state northern Spain and southwest France, before it was dissolved in 2018.

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The inclusion of the film in San Sebastian’s Made in Spain line-up has sparked criticism due to the fact it gives a voice to Urrutikoetxea.

An open letter signed by more than 500 people has published calling for the film to be removed from the line-up.

Festival director José Luis Rebordinos said the festival had not been sent the letter directly which was why he was posting his response via a press release.

“We do not share their opinion that the film No me llame Ternera should be withdrawn from the programme of this coming edition of the festival for having Josu Urrutikoetxea as its protagonist and the fact that he held a very high position within the terrorist group, ETA,” Rebordinos said in the release.

“Cinema is, among many other things, a source of history and has often endeavoured to take to the big screen protagonists, perpetrators of episodes of unjustifiable violence, but at whom it has wanted to take a closer look,” he continued.

He cited films such as Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, Rithy Panh’s S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing as examples of such work.

He said that the film had previously reflected on this issue in its 2016 retrospective The Act of Killing. Cinema and Global Violence, featuring 32 films that were either “a weapon of denunciation, a means of analysis or a form of direct intervention”.  

“The non-fiction to which we now refer neither justifies nor whitewashes ETA, because this festival would not screen a film with such premises,” said Rebordinos.

“At the end of the day, we consider that the film No me llame Ternera should be seen first and criticised later, and not the other way around. In this respect, we would be willing to organise a private screening for a small number of people representing the group,” he concluded.

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