At first, it was the Island. We could say not only to embrace Man of Aran, but also Nanook, as Robert Flaherty chose people surrounded by the sea in both cases to give his own starting pistol to the history of the documentary. In his film on the Irish coast, the waves that erase the human figure in the middle of the storm unveil something even more terrible: the first death in the film industry is represented by a natural fade-out to white. Since then, the cameras have not ceased in this crazy geographic insistence which consists of visiting the most remote islands to bring the remote closer, regain the passion for the furthest corners; in short, portray man to the limit.
The Chez les Basques cycle (At the Basque Home, in French), which will be developed within the framework of the Punto de Vista Festival from 10th to 15th February in Pamplona, brings together, for the first time ever, the important documentary legacy of life in the south-west corner of France, linking Bayonne to Hendaye and Mauleón to San Juan de Pie de Puerto, which are bordered by the Atlantic and the Pyrenees. Since the very beginning of the film industry, few places in the world have been able to boast of having such an illustrious group of internationally renowned filmmakers, who have portrayed the life and culture of one of the oldest living villages in Europe decade after decade. This ethnographic interest traces the selection and the five programmes that make up the Chez les Basques cycle.
© Gunnie Moberg Archive at Orkney Library & Archive.
The phrase that Margaret Tait repeated most often when explaining her films is Lorca’s idea that she loved so much and which claimed that the poet had to “stalk the image”. The Scottish filmmaker practised this verse perfectly, fully aware that this visual hunt was not with the eye, but from an indefinable, more inner place, close to the lungs, where it is felt that breathing is filmed. 32 short films and just one feature film are evidence of this long breath she left behind.
Session programmes of cycles Islans, Chez les Basques and Margaret Tait.