Do clowns really die? Do princesses answer letters? Do we picture death as a white horse? Where do old words go when they die? These are some of the questions asked in Emak Bakia Baita (The Emak Bakia House), a documentary on the search for the house on the Basque coast where Man Ray shot his famous film Emak Bakia (Leave Me Alone) back in 1926. Eighty years after the shooting, Oskar Alegria sets out to find the house on the basis of four clues: the house’s weird name, a photogram of a window, a photogram of a door and an image of the sea.
Punto de Vista 2013 is having a special session on this film, back in the director’s hometown after being shown in film festivals around the world last year – BAFICI, Distrital, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, San Sebastián Film Festival, FICValdivia, Doclisboa, Morelia International Film Festival and Montreal International Documentary Festival – RIDM, where it got an Honorary Mention.
In the words of Oskar Alegria, ‘”Emak Bakia” (a phrase in Basque meaning ‘Leave me alone’) is now written with an exclamation mark thanks to a walking project praising curves, paying tribute to the wind and loving meanders. It’s a film about chance (a concept embraced by Man Ray), with a thousand twists and turns. The grave of a clown is followed by a mysterious postcard from 1910 and some curious scenes about pig nightmares. Behind it all there’s Man Ray and his infinite source of images, from Biarritz to Paris to an eyelid audition also happening by chance.’
On its way to the house, the film revisits other artists who have used the phrase ‘Emak Bakia’ in their work. For instance, Emak Bakia Baita was a Basque poetry movement in the 1980s, led by Bernardo Atxaga and Ruper Ordorika. Emàk-Bakià is also the brand created by Florence-born designer Andrea degl’Innocenti. Finally, Emak Bakia is the band led by Abel Hernández.
Born in Pamplona, Oskar Alegria studied Journalism at university After being a reporter for Canal Plus and CNN+ in Madrid, he wrote the scripts of cultural shows and coordinated the literature sections at Telemadrid (Los cinco sentidos de la cultura) and Euskal Telebista (Sautrela). Also, he was the scriptwriter and director of the ‘Masters of Basque Cuisine’ documentary series for ETB, featuring Arzak, Subijana, Aduriz, Berasategui and Arbelaitz.
Since 2002, Alegria has been a regular contributor to El Viajero, the travel supplement of El País. He is the author of the photography project Las ciudades visibles (The Visible Cities), supported by writer Enrique Vila-Matas. Since 2009, he has taught scriptwriting at the Screenwriting Master’s Programme of the University of Navarra. He also conducted a workshop on abstract photography for children at the Chillida-Leku Museum.