DIRECTOR’S NOTES

“Lasa and Zabala” is an audio-visual project dealing with one of the most controversial –and high-profile incidents– in the so-called "Basque conflict", tragically protagonised in recent decades by Basque society and the rest of Spain. The events provide sufficient material to produce a fictionalised version of the story, in much the same way as has happened in British and Irish cinema, in a way that allows it to live on as part of the country’s history and narrative. Now, with the cessation of violence in the Basque Country, a new political and social scenario has emerged and it is possible to approach this story in a way that is respectful to those involved, their friends and next of kin and also to the actual historical circumstances. The story is told by way of key characters, with a particular emphasis on the human angle, to create a feeling of empathy in the viewer. It relates how two young men with left-wing nationalist leanings that led them to join ETA, were kidnapped, tortured and ultimately murdered. Thanks to a combination of chance and an almost obsessive determination on the part of the head of the police serious crime unit for the Mediterranean coast, an essential piece in the jigsaw came to light, ultimately leading to the conviction of several high-ranking civil guards and police officers.

In cinematographic and fictional terms, we plan to tell it the story as a crime thriller, given that it contains a large number of elements that clearly belong to the crime and detective genre; two young men who go missing in France, are abducted and taken to San Sebastian, tortured, and finally brought to Alicante, killed and buried in quicklime; a hunter who stumbles across their bones years later; a policeman who initially links the murders to a settling of scores among drug traffickers but years later sets in motion a chain of events that will end with suicides, charges against high-ranking officials, denunciations and confessions; and finally, the point when he manages to tie the different strands together to link those bones abandoned in a morgue hundreds of kilometres away with the young men who went missing in the French Basque Country.

Films such as “The Name of the Father” and “The Boxer” by Jim Sheridan and Ken Loach’s “Hidden Agenda” have successfully combined real stories and political arguments, told from a human perspective. These will be our reference points when it comes to deciding the best course of action.

We also want to avoid depicting the characters in polarised terms of “good and bad”, which would make the story less effective. Instead, we prefer to show them in all their subtle shades of shadow and light, bringing greater complexity to the events.

Insofar as our budget allows, any scenes of demonstrations and police charges will have to be rigorously credible and have sufficient visual muscle to ensure that viewers feel the full tension and emotion of the story; again, the closest example comes from British cinema and Paul Greengrass’s “Bloody Sunday”, for its power and visual strength.

Pablo Malo