How can we organise a retrospective on a filmmaker who never made a film? How can we put together a series of programmes that unveil his ideas on screen? Are we before the great heterodox? Someone who did not finish a single film aware of the fact that his idea was always superior to the result? At Punto de Vista, as lovers of challenges, we have leapt into the unknown and assumed the risk of filling four afternoons of film devoted to the non-existent work of Jorge Oteiza.
As our loyal public already knows, Heterodocsias is the section of the festival devoted to Spanish filmmakers who have been pushed aside due to injustice or oblivion or those who have seldom or never found a place at festivals or screened in cinemas due to the same lack of memory. Jorge Oteiza is undoubtedly the film heterodox par excellence, someone who did not ever film any of the many film scripts and ideas that he conceived in his head, but left us a wonderful and extensive legacy of all his potential films, written on papers, notes and scripts.
Are we before a simple theorist? Someone, like he himself said, who advocates a film of ideas rather than experimental film? No, Oteiza is not just theory. As we will see, he is pure practice, although he only lives in the outline and never films a single shot, all of his written film is intentional and written in detail –see the book published by the Festival on his handwritten notes. If Oteiza does not film, it is for several reasons: first of all for the technical difficulties of film in his times, which necessarily made it into a joint task in which the force of the individual creative drive was lost in the process and was blurred or distorted in the final result. For this reason, his film voluntarily or involuntarily remains in this initial stage of stammering freedom, not passing this first stage in which it is loyal to its creator, pure and true. And for this reason, he was sometimes heard shouting: “When film advances technically, let me know”.
Therefore, our programme on Oteiza is based on three paths: film that has emerged from his ideas and which has been filmed by others, such as the two sessions presented under the title of About Oteiza, or in other words, film inspired by Oteiza. Secondly, the film that we have found hidden in his archives in the form of Super8 films that he himself filmed and sound recordings about his film ideas: Oteiza’s film-treasures presented under the title of The Man Who Flees. And finally, the festival’s closing gala which uses audiovisual theatre to bring us closer to the tireless creator from Orio in a close that relates him to film and also to the theme of this year’s festival, FLYING, in a finale under the title of Oteiza and the Moon.
Finally, for our foreigners, we can say that Jorge Oteiza, along with Eduardo Chillida, is the Basque sculptor par excellence. He was born in 1908 in Orio, a coastal village of Gipuzkoa close to San Sebastian and he won the international prize for sculpture at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1957. His work, contrary to what was the tendency, is based on a radical proposal of emptiness and de-occupation – like his film that focuses on the moment, addressing a man void of memory. We can also tell you that he decided to abandon his career as a sculptor in 1963 when he saw that his speech in this discipline was finished and recognised, with great honesty, that he had nothing new to offer. Then, he went on to devote himself in body and soul to poetry and film, the mass technique of film as he himself said, where he hoped to trap the man that he had not managed to trap in sculpture or in poetry. This led to film and his abandonment of sculpture responds to an experimental logic, rather than a whim. He said, for example, that the first film on which he worked was in reality his last sculpture: Actaeon, the only long script that he wrote and that was taken to the screen (but directed by Jorge Grau, whereby Oteiza was so angered by the final result that he asked for his name to be removed from the credits). “I have been a sculptor in film”, according to this total artist, eliminating all borders to stagnant arts and their corpses. Here we present a Jorge Oteiza who is full of life and a resuscitator, who is as paradoxical as ingenious, as a great filmmaker without film but full of it.