The aim of the ‘Artisans of Cinema’ project is to write the history of Basque amateur film, documenting the movies, directors, film clubs and festivals involved. Starting from a local perspective, the idea is eventually to build an exhaustive map of a genre that has drawn little academic attention despite its cultural, social and political importance as a vehicle of expression for amateurs, artists, activists and future professional directors. The research will take the form of visits to film and municipal archives, cataloguing and digitisation of films, graphic material and texts, oral interviews with filmmakers and consultation of primary and secondary sources. We will then go on to carry out a critical and historical analysis of the materials recovered and organise a range of activities. The purpose will be to allow the research community—and the wider public—access to this fascinating history of ‘hand-made’ cinema, showcasing the enthusiasm and patience of hundreds of largely unrecognised filmmakers.
All the information compiled during the research will be posted on the Amateur Movie Database, an ambitious project by the University of Calgary (Canada) which has developed networked research tools for recovering and showcasing the history of amateur cinema. By exploring different sources, it has been possible to build up a database that can be used to locate individuals and organisations with collections of amateur movies, often widely dispersed and difficult to access. In the first international extension of this project, the Elías Querejeta Film School (EQZE) will head up a new line of research with the aim of adding previously unexplored sources to this database of alternative Basque cinema and designing protocols that will enable the project to be adapted to different international and multilingual contexts.
In parallel, we will work in partnership with the Basque Film Library to include its collections in the map of amateur movie making and to encourage the recovery, cataloguing and digitisation of the many collections still kept in attics, wardrobes and basements across the Basque Country. One of the chief aims of the project is to heighten public awareness of the importance of recovering, conserving and providing public access to the amateur film archive, which has formed a basic pillar of Basque film culture for many decades. With this in mind, the ‘Artisans of Cinema’ project aims to serve as an educational tool, not only rescuing our forgotten film heritage, but showcasing it on the local and international stage.
With the participation of: