The Berlin Film Festival turns the spotlight on the Basque Country for a day
The Basque Government, with representatives from its different departments, its Minister for Culture, Blanca Urgell, the Director of Tourism, Isabel Muela, and the Director for Innovation and Food Industries, Amaia Barrena, are at the Berlin Film Festival to promote the Basque Country as a tourist destination and to showcase its culture and local products.
The different activities are the result of the partnership between the Culinary Zinema section of the San Sebastián Festival and the Kulinarisches Kino section of the Berlinale or Berlin festival, which was established during the Zinemaldia festival in San Sebastian.
As part of the Berlinale, the Basque Day is being held today, which kicked off with a ceremony at the Spanish Embassy in Berlin, which was attended by the Spanish Ambassador to Germany, Rafael Dezcallar de Mazarredo, the Basque Government's Minister for Culture, Blanca Urgell, the Director of Tourism, Isabel Muela, the Director for Innovation and Food Industries, Amaia Barren, and the Director of the Extepare Basque Institute, Aizpea Goenaga.
Minister Urgell invited the people at the event to discover the Basque Country, where "you will find a unique fragment of European history and a language different from any other European language, but, above all, you will discover a hard-working attitude, where there is a great commitment to the future and innovation," she stressed.
During her speech, the Basque Government Minister for Culture pointed out that, after so many years of tears, burdens and suffering, "we are in a new era, where terrorism is a thing of the past and there is a real hope for lasting peace. During this time of hope, we have not forsaken nor are we going to forsake honouring the memory and showing total and lasting respect of those people who have suffered violence and intolerance, but we know that it is also time to take stock, to look for meeting points, common paths and spaces for coexistence".
Blanca Urgell ended her speech by stressing that the Basque Country is a place to discover, to share and where to invest. "A place where to enjoy incredible experiences," she said, "to try unique natural products, enjoy the delicious cuisine and discover the earnestness and hospitality of our people. We want to be visited and known, share our experience and learn from others. Because my country is a place committed to industrial or cultural creation, and which boasts high levels of confidence and quality of life".
The Basque Government's Director of Tourism, Isabel Muela, also spoke and she showcased the Basque Country as a tourist destination and highlighted its main strengths: the experiences to be enjoyed in the Basque Country, from the gastronomy, wines and the 3 Basque provincial capitals, to the greenery of the mountains, the coastline with the Flysch Route and the culture with its museums. It should be noted that Germany is a priority market for the Basque Country, for various reasons, including the direct flights and the interest of the Germans in a land that is similar to their own, with 70,000 German tourists visiting the Basque Country every year.
The Basque Day programme, involving a whole day of activities, kicked off with a presentation of the Basque food industry by the Director for Innovation and Food Industries, Amaia Barrena. She stressed the importance of "this event to establish commercial relations with the German market, which is one of the most important in the agri-food industry".
The Basque products showcased at the Basque Day included Rioja Alavesa wines, con La Rioja Qualified Denomination of Origin, through the Araex Export Group and the Bodega Heredad de Ugarte winery; txakoli wine with the Getariako Txakolina Denomination of Origin Regulatory Board; Preserved fish and fish-based products through the CORPA, (Corporación Pascual Hermanos) and Hijos de José Serrats companies, and Idiazabal cheese, with Denomination of Origin, through Basque Cheese.
A round table entitled Gastronomy, Art and Society was held and the participants included the Director of the Basque Culinary Center, Joxe Mari Aizega; the head of Zinemaldia, Jose Luis Rebordinos; and the chefs Andoni Luis Aduriz, Elena Arzak, Eneko Atxa and Thomas Struck, Director of Kulinarisches Kino.
The morning session ended with a lunch for over 100 guests hosted by Elena Arzak and Eneko Atxa, who also prepared pintxos in front of the guests.
The evening programme includes the screening of Mugaritz BSO, a film shot by Luís Aduriz, where the 3-star Michelin chef produces an innovative fusion of the senses. Etxepare Institute will host a performance by Felipe Ugarte, the musician who wrote the sound track for the documentary and co-director of the film, along with Beñat Iturrioz, on the txalaparta, a traditional Basque instrument, and Mikel Aristegui, the dancer.
The Mugaritz BSO documentary was funded by the Basque Government, which also sponsored the dinner for 200 people, prepared by Aduriz himself, and which was the culmination of the Basque Day at the Berlinale.
The acts are based on the partnership between the Culinary Zinema section of the San Sebastián Festival and the Kulinarisches Kino section of the Berlinale. This partnership dates back to the last Zinemaldia donostiarra, the San Sebastián Film Festival, when they were twined with the Basque Culinary Center to create Culinary Zinema, a section showcasing the gastronomy which will have its own permanent spot at the film festival held in the capital of Gipuzkoa.
The Basque Day is yet another initiative by the Basque Government to promote the Basque Country as an international tourist destination, with the gastronomy being the main driving force for tourism, which has resulted in excellent figures over the last two years.
Vitoria-Gasteiz, 13 February 2012