Azkuna Zentroa / UPV (EHU), Bilbao, 2016, 208 pp.

María Soliña Barreiro






Incomplete duality. A monograph by José Julián Bakedano
The first monograph on José Julián Bakedano is, like him, a fragmentary, yet solid, collage that emanates love for cinema. Santos Zunzunegui and Jorge Oter, supported by Alhóndiga/ Azkuna Zentroa de Bilbao and The University of the Basque Country/ Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, edited the book José Julián Bakedano: Sin Pausa last May. The publication of this collective book, both in Basque and Spanish, was accompanied by a film series of the author’s filmography.


As far as Bakedano is concerned, his nearly twenty films are not enough to identify him as an author. Neither his more than 30 texts, 300 film programmes or the hundreds of catalogues of The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum make him a scholar. José Julián Bakedano has consolidated the Basque cinematographic culture for over 40 years. His work, even if fragmentary, has a great value because of its extension. His figure is a collage of a firm, continuous, generous and cubist love for cinema. Cubist, because it is in the accumulation of cinematographic facets, of perspectives, where the creative action crystallizes in culture, according to Bakedano’s own definition of culture. His work, in a wide sense, is articulated in a constellation that has maintained the Basque cinematographic culture since 1966, when he wrote his first article in 'Film Ideal'.


José Julián Bakedano. Sin Pausa goes over the author’s filmic work through reviews and analysis of different authors like Endika Rey, Félix García de Villegas, Íñigo Larrauri, Germán Rodríguez, Maialen Beloki, Rubén Corral, Nekane E. Zubiazur and Marta Fernández Penas. The book also offers the author’s perspective in an extensive interview made by Jorge Oter and Germán Rodríguez, and his figure is approached in texts by Santos Zunzunegui, Luis Eguiraun, Joseba Sarrionandia, José Antonio Sistiaga and Leopoldo Zugaza. The book concludes with a brief selection of Bakedano’s own reviews, his filmography and bibliography.


There is a big disparity among the texts that compose this edition. Some are brief, intense and somehow sensationalists reviews; others are deep and analytic, and reveal a sense of both territorialness and openness in Bakedano’s work. The strength of the proposal is to approach a figure of cinema in a wide sense, by understanding the relevance of the substratum that was built by his generous contribution in all the fields of film culture: criticism, directing, programming, curating, dissemination, creation. However, the achievement of that goal, that is, to study both the producer of films and the one who brings them to the audience, is limited by the selection of Bakedano’s texts included in the monograph, which is restricted to two reviews.


Going through both completed and uncompleted works, the book makes possible to understand the transformations of Basque cinema and art from the Transition to our days. In Oraingoz izen gabe (Todavía sin nombre, Still without name, 1986) Bakedano demonstrates to Antxon Ezeiza and Koldo Izagirre that Basque is ‘valid as a dramatic language’; in the news Isuka 9 (1980) he goes through contemporary Basque art, in different works portrays pieces by Uzelai, Chillida, Nagel or Basterretxea, and many of his projects fall through because of lack of financial support. In his works he develops a territorial cinema, an atmosphere, reaching a great spontaneity by creating from his own, progressively emancipated culture.


His filmography throbs with duality, which is felt in the titles, the topics, the editing and even in the technique (deconstruction and reconstruction). A good example is Bi (1976), La carta del amigo (2007) and the constant movement between plastic and visual arts, by using matters, times and spaces from sculpture or painting into cinema.


The origin of the book is found in an unnoticed draft. A special issue of the Pausa Journal, edited by PhD students, finally became this first monograph of José Julián Bakedano. All the texts were reviewed, some of them were expanded, and some were written specifically for the new edition. Love for art is thus in the genesis of the book itself, and as a result we find the unevenness and freedom that arise as its essential features.


José Julián Bakedano. Sin Pausa is not a book about a filmmaker, neither about a curator or a critic. It is all of them, and none at the same time. It is about a man of cinema, a man that accomplished to crystallize a certain cinephilia and cinematographic culture in his country out of his passion for the cinematic art.