Julio Medem

One of world cinema’s most imaginative and stylish filmmakers, Julio Medem is considered by many as the voice of post-democracy Spanish cinema.
He was born in Donosti, San Sebastián in 1958. Before entering the film industry, he studied Medicine and General Surgery at the Universidad del Pais Vasco, from where he graduated in 1985.
While still a student, Medem wrote a movie column for the daily paper, La Voz de Euskadi, and wrote articles for various other film publications. He taught himself about cinematography in the mid-1970s, experimenting with a Super-8 camera.
The result was a series of short films, beginning with the Hitchcockian El Ciego (The Blind Man) in 1976. In one of his early short films, Fideos (1979), Medem effectively blurred the lines between recognisable reality and the abstract by having the camera view an abstract series of patterns in extreme close-up and then slowly back away to reveal a mundane scene of a man eating pasta.
In 1992 Medem made an auspicious feature film directing debut with Vacas (Cows), a beautifully rendered portrait of the close rivalries between Basque families. The film packed an emotional wallop, and critics hailed Medem’s craftsmanship and his flair for marrying strikingly original imagery with his near-mythic story lines.
Medem continued to explore the relationship between the abstract and reality in his rich and wide-ranging subsequent work: La Ardilla Roja (The Red Squirrel), Tierra (Earth), Lovers of the Arctic Circle, Sex & Lucia.
His films have earned well-deserved accolades and respect at the international film festivals. In Dublin he holds a distinction rare among directors working in a language other than English, in that all five of his feature films to date have received a cinema release in the city.
His new film, Basque Ball, The Skin Against the Stone (La Pelota Basca, La Piel Contra la Piedra) – a documentary on Basque history, culture and conflict – has been the subject of considerable controversy in Medem’s native Spain.
“This film aims to be an invitation to discussion,” Medem explains. “This film has been conceived with respect towards all opinions. This film is independent. It is due entirely to personal initiative. This film declares its solidarity with those who suffer violence related to the Basque conflict. This film will also miss those who have not wanted to participate”. The Dublin International Film Festival will pay tribute to Julio Medem with a special season devoted to all six of his feature films, and we hope that he will be in a position to attend the festival. At the time of going to press with this programme, he had signalled his desire to attend the festival but was not in a position to confirm his attendance at this point.
Should he be available, he will participate in a public interview about his work, immediately following the screening of Basque Ball on February 19th, to be conducted by Paddy Woodworth, a former film critic and former arts editor of
The Irish Times, and the author of the critically acclaimed recent book, Dirty War, Clean Hands.