IMANOL URIBE. CLARIFYING THE CONUNDRUMThe equation ensuing from the cinema that awakened awareness and broke taboos, the one that led to the ballot box, would not be same in the tempestuous history of Spanish cinema without the conundrum that is Imanol Uribe (El Salvador, 1950). After studying Medicine and Journalism during the burgeoning democracy, Uribe graduated as a Director from the Official Film School. Even then, his first works, and not forgetting the school sketches, used the thriller to stir the conscience and political activism at a time when thrillers usually triggered the complexes of our cinema. El proceso de Burgos (1979), La fuga de Segovia (1981) and La muerte de Mikel (1984), all of which are now classics, paved the way for the ones that would come afterwards, set a type of benchmark and attitude with respect to what could and should be filmed. A decade later, in 1994, Uribe returned to the Basque socio-political world to collect the Golden Shell for Días contados, a film that would have notch up record nominations for the Goyas. In the year of Maixabel (2021), at a time when Spanish cinema can now portray members of ETA as human beings without needing to apologise, we should recall that Bollaín’s film is in that territory conquered by those brave works of Uribe, what were so highly criticised.
The conundrum that is Uribe has passed through a type of anomalies, formats and genres. Following on from the highly recoverable La luna negra (1989), the memorable horror feature film for television, he made series for the small screen of the ilk of La huella del crimen (1991) and La mujer de tu vida (1994), along with producing works of famous members of his generation, including Montxo Armendáriz (Secretos del corazón, 1999) and Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón (Visionarios, 2001), at Aiete Films. Uribe’s interest in literature led to audience acclaim when he adapted Gonzalo Torrente Ballester in El rey pasmado (1991), Antonio Muñoz Molina in Plenilunio (1999), Ángel García Roldán in El viaje de Carol (2002) and Arturo Pérez Reverte in La carta esférica (2007). The focus was always on the versatility of film offered by the tone and arithmetic of the narrative, but above all which can be attributed to the accurateness of the performers. During his career, Uribe has always left preparation and waiting times between films, while building up a recognisable and eclectic filmography, where he splits his predilection for noir films (Extraños, 1999) with political and social awareness-raising stories (Bwana, 1996). With his latest work in the pipeline, Llegaron de noche, the Bilbao filmmaker born in San Salvador will come full circle in a cinema committed to the political causes of its time as he brings to the screen the 1989 bloody massacre of Jesuits during the civil war in El Salvador.
Film programmer, critic, research fellow