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    Alcalde de Bilbao


    Juan Mari Aburto.
    Mayor of Bilbao

    ZINEBI is one of those cultural events with deep roots in our city. A city event which, year on year, is allocated a space in the cultural schedule of Bilbao and of the Basque Country, and perhaps also in the global schedule. This time around it is in its 65th year, and so a film festival with non-generalist aspirations – this was not the case of documentaries and short films in 1959, nor is it the case nowadays – has succeeded in creating a lasting commitment to the cinema of that industrial and industrious Bilbao, a laborious, restless city back in those grey-tinged years.

    When the invention that seemed to be about to do away with cinema, television, was extending its tentacles all over the world, Bilbao was busy organising the State’s third festival. Today we celebrate the fact that it is still going, demonstrating that in the wake of the Donostia-San Sebastián and Valladolid festivals (the aspirations of which were diametrically opposed to the criteria of our festival), it was extremely important for the main focus of the programme to be shorts and documentaries.

    At that time, the Lumière brothers’ invention – officially presented at Paris’ Grand Café’s Salon Indien on 28 December 1895 – was around 64 years old. Since that first “International Latin American and Filipino Documentary Film Festival of Bilbao”, held in early October, just over another 64 years have elapsed.

    This year, in 2023, ZINEBI is right at the heart of the History of Cinema: a long chapter extends from those silent shorts of teased gardeners and workers leaving factories, to German expressionism, Soviet cinema and Italian neo-realism, and, of course, the classic Hollywood films that inspired the people behind the Festival. Since then, this year’s event chalks up 65 ZINEBI festivals, where we can recall and/or discover the riskier side of films, often fragile, committed and courageous.

    It was in Bilbao where the big names in contemporary films were made, such as that of Carlos Saura, who passed away recently, and one of whose films was presented at the very first Festival. But ZINEBI’s commitment to cinema may also be found in other names, such as Richard Lester, Basilio Martín Patino, Santiago Álvarez, Claude Lelouch, Valeria Sarmiento, Pablo Berger and Julio Medem, who competed, and even won, in Bilbao. As if all this were not enough, since the beginning of this century our Festival has gradually opened up to the world, gracing us with the company of Barbara Kopple, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Margarethe von Trotta, Marco Bellocchio, Agnieszka Holland and Aki Kaurismäki, among many others: the crème de la crème of cinema in the middle of the photo, with Bilbao at the centre.