Oteiza said that the most interesting thing about pelota was that there is no other sport in the world in which your opponent is next to you rather than in front of you. All of these peculiarities of our oldest game are what have captured the attention of renowned filmmakers, such as Orson Welles and the case of this session: the Danish filmmaker, Jørgen Leth. What is historic about this special day in which the screen will act as the front is the possibility of watching his two films one after the other, his two visits 30 years apart to verify the passage of time on our tradition. All of this will be accompanied by the two featured pelota players who will participate in the debate afterwards and the anthropologist, Olatz González Abrisketa, who co-directs and advises the Danish filmmaker in his visits to our courts.
Denmark, 1983, 47’
Undoubtedly one of the best historic documentaries on pelota by the great international filmmaker, which shows that good films, like wine that is carefully blended, ages to perfection: looking now at the images of a young Retegi running through the mud to train in his hometown of Erasun is priceless and a gift to our filming tradition. In addition to covering legends, the film also travels through the passion and the anthropology of those who play in the streets and in the small porticos of the churches. The game is attached to the village or the village is attached to the game, which at times is not the same, as seen clearly in the film.
Jørgen Leth, Olatz Gonzalez Abrisketa
Denmark, Spain, 2015, 71’
Thirty years after making Pelota, the Danish filmmaker, Jørgen Leth, returns to the Basque countryside to film a new documentary on the star sport. This time, he is accompanied by the anthropologist, Olatz González Abrisketa. The return visit is full of surprises in time: the then champions are now coaches and there is a new generation willing to leave their hands on the court. The co-direction with the anthropologist, Olatz, gives the Danish filmmaker new ideas on which to raise the poetics of the game: “The ball is a living being. Each one is different to the rest and it must be listened to properly to recognise it”.
Aarhus, Denmark, 1937
Jørgen Leth is a Danish film director and author. He has published 26 books and made 45 films, most of which have been distributed internationally, earning critical acclaim and receiving numerous awards from all over the world. He has received a lifelong grant from the Danish state for his achievements in filmmaking. He is an expert in travel films and portraits of places, New York Street Performers (1982), and an exceptional commentator of sporting achievements, A Sunday in Hell (1977); Michael Laudrup: A Football Player (1993); Jørgen Leth is also considered by many members of the 1990s Dogma generation to be the father of this movement and the maestro of the famous director, Lars von Trier. One of his best known films, The Perfect Human, was premiered alongside La Chinoise by Jean-Luc Godard at the Cannes Festival in 1967.
Olatz Gonzalez Abrisketa
Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of the Basque Country. In 2005, she published Basque Pelota: A Ritual, An Aesthetic, which was published in the United States in 2012. She has also made diverse audiovisual works, publications, art exhibitions, conferences, researches, etc. Pelota II is her first film as a Director.