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This is my first year as Bilbao’s City Councillor of Culture. Although it is also true that, while having only recently joined the city’s council, I am no stranger to the duties of local administration, as—many years ago—I used to be the head of the same area I am now managing. I am well acquainted with ZINEBI’s main organisers of recent times. I have re-encountered a wonderful film festival, which is what ZINEBI is, and the professionals that make it possible.

Founded in 1959, the Bilbao festival is the third oldest in the country—after San Sebastián and Valladolid—and the oldest in its speciality area: short films and documentary films. A proper history and a proper responsibility.

International film stars from Ennio Morricone to Jeanne Moreau have passed through Bilbao, along with filmmakers little known in many countries back then, who started out in our city. In some cases, en route to international fame – such as the Briton Richard Lester or the Spaniard Carlos Saura, in others, supporting young filmmakers – such as the Italian actress Serena Vergano. Always creators of some of the freest, most complex and most avant-garde works of contemporary cinema.

Because our film festival has always been there, supporting and lending visibility to new filmmakers from the five continents, as it has always been here, amongst us, for the past sixty years, encouraging new directors from Bilbao, Biscay and the Basque Country and promoting their international presence, as happened not long ago with the Basque film programme that ZINEBI presented at the Uruguayan Cinematheque.

What I mean is that this festival is the most important instrument of municipal action in the audiovisual sector in our city, our territory and our country. I am sure that it plays—and will continue to play—a prime role in the development and growth of our audiovisual industry and in the formation of its companies and professionals. A task that still has a long way to go, especially if we consider the new challenges and possibilities posed by new digital paradigms for cinematographic creation around the world.

In this exciting work, ZINEBI has all of my support and my full confidence.

Gonzalo Olabarria
Bilbao City Councillor of Culture

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