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Councillor for Culture

Ten years ago, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of ZINEBI, the festival management asked the unforgettable Bilbao cartoonist, humourist and sculptor Juan Carlos Eguilior to take part in the anniversary celebrations by creating two commemorative posters. He accepted without hesitation and immediately set out to surpass the work he had done thirty years earlier, in 1978, when he was the author of the poster for the 20th year of the event, which was then known as the International Festival of Documentary Film.

His work in 2008 resulted in two striking and meticulously designed images that provided yet another sample of the unclassifiable genius of that singular Bilbao native, which Eguilior—although born in San Sebastian—always wanted to be. The first image shows a solitary spectator wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a long coat like those worn by detectives and gangsters in American film noir, with an Athletic football club badge in the lapel, gazing at the screen in the darkness of a cinema. The second one is of a very big, impressive ship, with a Bilbao flag blowing in the wind, sailing through a kind of mare tenebrosum while a fantasy, rocket-shaped figure films it from the coast.

These two images have come to mind now in 2018 as ZINEBI celebrates its 60th anniversary. And I think that they both still have a strong metaphorical message as both—each in their own way—aptly express two of the most outstanding features of the festival over the course of its history: firstly, ZINEBI annually invites Bilbao residents and anyone visiting our city in November to go to the cinema, settle down in their seats and attentively watch the worlds displayed on the big screen. Almost paradoxically, although the cinema brings us together in a kind of cinephile communion, each spectator’s gaze is radically individual and, therefore, essentially solitary. I would even dare say that—in the midst of the current over-abundance of platforms, mediums and devices on which we can watch films—going to the cinema, whether alone or in company, is still an act of resistance against the progressive uniformity of the forms of cultural consumerism in our times.  Secondly, the image of the big ship full steam ahead evokes the idea of the work, patience and perseverance required to bring it safely to port. ZINEBI, at sixty, has become a large film festival, the second in Europe and the third in Spain, a true cinematographic flagship that is now a can’t-miss event and an international benchmark (both locally and globally) for emerging talent from anywhere in the world. This is also because the festival has been paying special attention over recent years to films by female directors and, more generally, to the presence and to the work of women at all professional levels of the audio-visual and film industry. I am sure that this commitment will be further boosted by the recent appointment of Vanesa Fernández Guerra as new director of ZINEBI.

I am delighted to join in with this commemoration, I congratulate the festival organisers and I encourage them to keep up the good work, aware that this is one of the main actions of Bilbao City Council in the area of art and culture.

Because as Federico Fellini—the great Italian maestro—said in one of his most memorable titles: e la nave va.

Nekane Alonso
Bilbao City Councillor for Culture