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Mayor of Bilbao

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ZINEBI

Juan Mari Aburto. Mayor of Bilbao.

This year ZINEBI is marking its 63rd anniversary. Were we to use the cliché of comparing it to the age of a person, we could say that it was fast approaching retirement. However, if we were to continue with that comparison, we could not avoid another adage coined by Alejandro Dumas – and which in this case is very true – that one is ‘always young at heart.’

In its 63rd year, ZINEBI has attracted over 3,500 professional and amateur filmmakers from around the world, eager to send their latest works to one of the most prestigious short-film festivals worldwide. It is a qualifier for the Hollywood Oscars for the short films that have been awarded the ZINEBI Grand Prix and the Mikeldi for the Best Documentary short films. The short films from the United Kingdom competing in Bilbao can also qualify for the British Academy Film and Television Art Awards (BAFTA) and the festival is also a qualifier for the Goyas awarded by the Spanish Academy of Cinematic Arts and Sciences. Since 1974, ZINEBI has also been recognised year on year by the International Federation of Film Producers’ Association as one of the very few Class A documentary and short-film competitive festivals (there are currently five in the world).

This year, the festival is proud to add to its list of accolades the recognition of the European Film Academy (EFA), founded in Berlin in 1989 under the presidency of Ingmar Bergman, the great Swedish director. ZINEBI is consequently the only festival in Spain where a short-film will be chosen as a nominee for the European Film Awards.

When one is used to strolling along Bilbao’s streets (through Deusto, Zorrozaurre, Olabega or Abando, for example), there is the risk of taking for granted everyday situations that it seems that we appreciate more when we read that the Athletic football stadiums has received a World Design Award or that the Guggenheim has been named European Museum of the Year. ZINEBI has been around for so long that it is now, of course, part of Bilbao’s landscape. But when outsiders recognise what has become commonplace in our minds, it is right to pause in our autumn routine (returning to the cinema to see some of the world’s best short films and documentaries) and give the credit deserved to the decades of work at ZINEBI, our International Festival of Documentary and Short Film of Bilbao.

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