As it gradually becomes clear that we are no longer as young as we used to be, we learn that—if things don’t somehow go pear-shaped—everything will eventually turn out as it should. That happens in all walks of life and no less so at ZINEBI, our film festival, which is now in its 60th year. The organisers, headed up by their new director, Vanesa Fernández Guerra, have more reasons than they need to celebrate this. Many things can happen in sixty years, and they have done at ZINEBI, which began in the depth of Franco’s regime—way back in 1959—yet still feels young in 2018, still ready to take on the world, to watch all the film work produced around the globe every year and share it with the people of Bilbao and anyone else who visits us each November. I think that it is precisely this willingness to watch all the film work, to take the roads travelled by contemporary cinema, that is key to the success and survival of this prestigious festival of documentary and short film: its two historic hallmarks. Staying loyal to its identity as it moves into the future is how ZINEBI has managed to keep up with the times, see an ever-larger number of films registered for its different events each year and also fit more and more short and feature-length films into its programme.
It is a well-known fact that both documentaries and short films occupy a relatively small—one could almost say marginal—place in the mainstream film industry considered exclusively as entertainment for practically identical mass markets around the world – which obviously has its pros and cons. The latter include the fact that, in general, these kinds of productions do not have their own strong platforms or means of distribution and exhibition, which adds a certain edge of precariousness that often puts the development of these projects at risk. But, on the other hand, precisely because of being a minority within the international industrial film production system, male and female directors of documentaries and short films represent the more creative front, with the most commitment from an artistic perspective and the freshest and most irrepressible talent in contemporary cinema, as the blend of curiosity and courage that shines through each of their images provides us, each year, with a vibrant testimony—of great ethical and aesthetic depth—of the complex realities of our global village.
I think that ZINEBI continues to display the same curiosity and the same courage in its programming as the film-makers that use it annually as a showcase and stepping stone. It is a festival that—from 1959 right up to the present day—has opted for the less obvious aspects of the art of the cinematographer and focussed on the immense minority that continues to consider—and radically so—that watching films is, to once again paraphrase the great Godard, a question of morality.
So, I would like to congratulate ZINEBI on being sixty years old, wish it much luck and success on its anniversary and, above all, a long life and even longer look at the cinema of the future – the future that is the true raw material of the Bilbao film festival.
Juan Mari Aburto
Mayor of Bilbao