It was cold when we left Berlin to return to Bilbao after the screenings and work meetings at the Berlinale 2020. Many were of the opinion that it had been marked by the coronavirus we were starting to hear so much about in the unsettling news coming out of China. Not long afterwards, we were amazed to be forming part of what we would never have imagined in our wildest dreams: the world suddenly stopped and human drama began taking over our planet. Filming also stopped dead and cinemas immediately shut up shop. Our little microclimate of film festivals began to undergo phenomena never experienced before, such as all kinds of postponements and cancellations. Just a few days later, we were on full lockdown, on our own with ourselves, with our families, and full of doubt.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the first one we have experienced. I believe that, through people’s sacrifice and perseverance, we will soon overcome it. Nonetheless, when we do, it will still take a lot of work for our cultural and audiovisual industries to regain their former strength. In this delicate situation, holding ZINEBI62—a hybrid version of the festival, combining in-cinema screenings with an online exhibition—is part of the Bilbao City Council’s decisive commitment to supporting and reinforcing this essential sector of our local industry.
In times of crisis, we frequently come across news about workers at a large factory whose jobs are at risk. Their struggle often becomes a standard for society as a whole to revindicate the right of each and every one of us to a job and dignified working conditions in a democratic country. Although culture is the highest expression of the ‘civic friendship’ mentioned long ago by the Greeks, allowing us to live together and be better citizens, and although culture as an industry—with cinema topping the bill—is a real driver of economic growth and job creation in many countries, depended on by many families, the production of cultural services and products is often seen as superfluous and non-essential compared with realities that are more peremptory only in appearance.
But culture cannot stop because the creative genius of the human condition cannot stop either. That is why cinema is also unstoppable. This was demonstrated when it came through for us every time we called on it during our interminable confinement – in search of entertainment, new knowledge or simple consolation. And this was demonstrated again by producers and directors from around the world sending the ZINEBI headquarters thousands of short films and hundreds of feature films as proof of their desire to get a place in the strict selection for ZINEBI62
I am extremely grateful for the trust that film people from the different areas—direction, production, distribution, exhibition—have placed in our festival again this year, for choosing us to premiere their most recent work. Their interest is our interest, because that is how we are going to recover together from the disaster we have experienced and breathe new life into our cultural and industrial fabric. I am also grateful to the institutions and our partners for the support and love that the festival has received from all of them this year.
And, especially, I would like to acknowledge the ZINEBI team for their positivity, their love of cinema, their work and their dedication, making it possible to present one of the most difficult and complex episodes of our festival as a collective, diverse, egalitarian and safe experience. And I hope a pleasant one too, of course.
Vanesa Fernández Guerra
Director of ZINEBI