From May 29 to June 7, the We are One: A Global Film Festival has brought together film festivals from all over the world based on the idea that the filmmaking community can come together in times of crisis to not only celebrate films but also to give them the support they so need during the pandemic.
One of the festivals participating is Zinemaldia, the San Sebastian Film Festival, which presented, in its international online début, the film Dantza, directed by Telmo Esnal. We spoke about this film back when it was being shot in 2014. Even then, we could tell that the images being offered in its presentation seemed extraordinary. When we saw it on ETB, our feelings were confirmed, as we were able to enjoy a film that had a beauty and a pacing that seemed to be from another world, despite being so “us”, so Basque, and at the same time so universal.
This personal perception was strengthened when we read the article by Brian Shaer reviewing this film for the website Film Threat. In it, he analyzes the film from a technical, artistic, and cultural point of view. The conclusion we reached after reading it is that, for the author, this film is a true work of art, offering a high level of technical and artistic quality, and a deep love of the culture of the Basques. He states:
“Through the spectacular and creative use of locations and revelatory dances, Dantza celebrates the Basque people, an ancient ethnic group deriving from the area where southwestern France meets north-central Spain. The dance sequences evoke such cultural practices as working the land, defending the region from invaders, and, finally, the marriage of a sweet local couple.”
By the way, this description is quite different to the one offered by the We are One festival, which starts its presentation with “In the north of Spain…”, where the use of the word “Basque” is almost anecdotal.
Nevertheless, the summary of the film offered by this article tells us everything we need to read: the score given to the film is a 9.5/10.
Film Threat – 7/6/2020- USA
WE ARE ONE: A GLOBAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Dantza is genuinely a one-of-a-kind motion picture: not so much a movie as it is a series of representational episodes. The film is a stunning achievement in dance, color, and photography. With only the loosest framework of a plot, the film is virtually silent save for the marching band-meets-medieval orchestral score, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less watchable. Writer-director Telmo Esnal beautifully synchronizes dance, music, and visual art into one sumptuously Basque tour de force.