Costa Rican daily El País has a report on the documentary “I’m not from here”, directed by Chilean Maite Alberdi and Lithuanian Giedre Zickytèque, which focuses on the memories that “are never forgotten, like one’s place of origin.”
In the search for a protagonist for their story, the directors thought that this person should be an emigrant, someone who had lived most of their life in Chile, but who had spent their childhood elsewhere.
They came across Josebe Echavenguren, an old Basque lady who came to Chile when she was 20 but who had been born in Renteria, where she had spent her childhood. Now, at 88, she is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and while her day-to-day memory has disappeared, “her furthest memories are still present, and she’s obsessed with returning to her native Renteria, in the north of Spain, and with getting to know the Basque origins of her fellow residents.”
One of the directors, Chilean Maite Alberdi (whose surname also signals similar origins) explains why they decided to do the documentary with her:
“The balance and passion with which she defends her roots, her ideas, and her people seemed very interesting to me, as did her unique personality, and the fact that at the same time she was an idiosyncratic representation of Basque immigrants to Chile.”
We can’t help but feel extreme sadness to think that this woman, whose life what undoubtedly tough, feels broken away from her adopted country, where she’s spent most of her life, and whose most vivid memories are of a homeland that no longer exists. The image of Renteria that she has in her memories looks nothing like the city that she’d find today were she to return.
All she has left, as a last resort, are the memories of her childhood and the pride in her origins. In this case, Marcel Proust’s phrase comes to mind: “the true lost paradise is childhood.” In that quote, we can imagine the last gleams of a generation that had to emigrate after the Spanish Civil War.
This is a generation whose story is being lost, as if Basque society were suffering from collective Alzheimer’s, since there has been no decision to make an organized effort to collect these stories that make up our history systematically. There are stories of extremely interesting acts, but we get the impression that there is a lack of resources and coordination necessary to save these stories, big and small. As we like to say, we let others write our history for us, and then we study History that was written by others to serve their own ends.
Alzheimer’s is a disease well known to the Basques, given a genetic mutation that causes it to occur in a higher percentage among Basques. We’ll leave you with the article in the Costa Rican newspaper and a trailer for the documentary-
El País – 1/5/2016 – Costa Rica
“Yo no soy de aquí”, la conciencia del pasado y el olvido del presente
“Soy de Rentería”, repite una y otra vez Josebe, que a sus 88 años olvida el presente pero habla con claridad de su pasado más lejano desde su vejez en Chile. Lo cuenta el cortometraje documental “Yo no soy de aquí”, un estudio de “la pérdida de la memoria pero desde el recuerdo”. Así lo define la realizadora chilena Maite Alberdi que ha realizado este corto junto a la lituana Giedre Zickytè y que se proyecta mañana y el martes dentro del festival Documenta Madrid.