The Basque Country and the right to decide

When we’re told about the history of a people, generally only major politicians, leaders or authorities are named in books, documentaries, films... However, the real history of a people isn’t made by the big names, but by the people itself. Beyond the well-known characters appearing in this documentary, are the individuals, the citizens as its prominent figures. They show us that they are a cut above the politicians, that it is they who play the lead role in a historical change.

The story starts in a small Basque town famous the world over for its cheese. In a society separated by violence in recent decades and in a context of political confrontations, the locals undertake an impossible mission: to be able to decide what to be in the world. They pursue the dream of living in harmony and respect, peacefully and founded on dialogue.

The Nazioen Mundua social movement, result of the friendship between two people from completely different political trenches, has proven itself capable of overcoming and activating the political blockage. Over and above political interests, they believe that the people itself plays the leading part in the peace process.

By chance, a tourist trip to Scotland opened a new road to peace and democracy, to understanding the problem of identity suffered by peoples. Since then, Scotland has become a model of citizenship in the Goierri region (Highlands), with relations between Scotland and the Basque region of Goierri continuing to this day.

Rural sports tend the bridge between the two nations. These sports will take the Basques to Scotland and bring the Scots to the Basque Country in the first ever gathering between the two.

Leaving political channels to one side, they will begin an exchange based on rural sport. The aim is to defend the right to decide the future of the two nations and to spread the idea in a peaceful, spectacular fashion.

That’s why the inhabitants of Idiazabal decided to make a documentary to spread their idea. While the project reflects the philosophy of the social movement and its shoestring budget, its making was also possible thanks to the participation and collaboration of many people. Immersed in recording the documentary, while climbing a steep thorn-covered hill towards the right to decide, between the Basque stone lifting and Scottish tossing the caber, “unexpected” historical occurrences have taken place in both countries: in the Basque Country, ETA, the last armed organisation in Western Europe, announces its definitive and irreversible ceasefire. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the SNP separatist party wins a landslide victory in the 2011 elections, opening the doors to a referendum on independence.

That’s when the tale of Idiazabal joins the great histories of the two nations. Those rural sportsmen and women will become direct witnesses of two historic events in old Europe.

This documentary presents the Basque conflict from an innovative angle: it takes a close look at the major occurrences, narrating the events in small letters, close up, intimately and with humour... It highlights the human factor and shuns the stereotypes of history and journalistic chronicles. Here we see the making of of the story. Going beyond what everyone sees, it looks at something no-one sees: the human factor. The spotlight focusses on the person in the street, side-stepping fascination with the big names. Leaving behind a dark, conflictive past, A Piece of Cheese looks towards the future with positive eyes.

A tale addressing the future. A stylistic contribution to films on the Basque conflict. The way the story is told and its content are pure harmony: this documentary shows us a new way of going about and narrating things.

Jon Maia
Director ofGazta zati bat

Film: Gazta zati bat / A Piece of Cheese

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