Monday, October 18

“Maixabel” at the Zinemaldia

The Zinemaldia, the San Sebastian International Film Festival, ends this year’s edition this Friday with a previous controversy over the Donostia award given to the actor Johnny Depp, which the actor himself redirected during the reception of the award.

The festival has suffered during this apocalyptic period the consequences of the pandemic. Last year it seemed reckless to celebrate, Cannes suspended theirs and replaced it with a minor event. In Donostia, José Luis Rebordinos, the director, steeled himself and decided to move forward. It was quite a challenge that could go wrong, but it went well. Prize for the brave.

In this year’s edition, the director has shown new signs of that courage. In “times of lynching on social networks,” he said, the awarding of the Donostia award to Johnny Depp could unleash the fury of those “judges” of obscurity and anonymity. The easy thing was to replace Depp with someone younger, but Rebordinos wanted to continue to maintain the high level of the Donostia awards and did not lose heart. The Zinemaldia has always been “against inequality, abuse of power and sexist violence,” he recalled, but “Depp has not been arrested, charged or convicted of any aggression,” he had to explain.

But, apart from Depp, and apart from the extraordinary audiovisual waste that the San Sebastian festival supposes, this year’s edition has been marked by the presentation of a film that now hits theaters: “Maixabel”. It is one more of those that have come and will come, to complete the story of ETA’s terrorism, but it is not just any one.

Maixabel is the name of the wife of Juan María Jauregi Apalategi, a former member of the Communist Party who later, with the PSOE, was appointed civil governor of Gipuzkoa. Jauregi, whose testimony was crucial for General Rodríguez Galindo of the Civil Guard to be convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Lasa and Zabala, was a firm defender of ending “the dialectic of fists and pistols” as he announced when taking office. from his post as governor in October 1994. He was also a staunch defender of dialogue. It lasted two years.

Later, to keep him away from the constant threats from ETA, he was offered to be Aldeasa’s delegate in Chile and from there he would periodically travel to the Basque Country. On one of those trips, in July 2000, two ETA members entered the Frontón de Tolosa bar. One of them approached Jauregi and shot him in the head. The former governor, who was not carrying an escort, was shot dead.

Icíar Bollaín’s film tells this story from the perspective of his widow, Maixabel Lasa, who was Jauregi’s companion for most of his adult life, including political activism, and also of his daughter. The director, the two real protagonists, and the actress who gives life to Maixabel on the screen, Blanca Portillo, make up a female quartet that breathes a bit of healthy air into that poisoned world of ETA violence.

One of the central points in the filmic story is the encounter between the widow and her husband’s murderers. It is the crux of the matter.

At the time of the attack, the terrorists escape and when they reach the safe zone, they show an adrenaline rush with screams, jumps and expressions of joy. Testosterone rules. Years later, in the solitude of the cell, in the harsh prison life, the reflection arrives. For some. In the case of Jauregi’s murderers, both Luis Carrasco and Ibon Etxezarreta decide to participate in the encounters with victims. In this case with the main victim, the widow.

And here the testosterone no longer commands. It is hard to look into the eyes of a widow who penetrates you with a direct look, without hatred. You have killed her husband. But she doesn’t yell at you, she doesn’t insult you, she doesn’t hit you. It just looks at you from the depths of unbearable humanity for a modicum of awareness. What the hell did you do, you wonder, and for what? And she lets you say “I’d rather be Juan Mari’s widow than your mother.”

The repentant, very few, went from being heroes in their political world to being branded as traitors. A few days ago, the leader of EH Bildu Arnaldo Otegi, claimed to have “enormous respect for Maixabel Lasa and her daughter. I think people who have been capable from their suffering of having a very constructive and very respectful attitude towards everything that has happened. in the country”.

True, Maixabel and her daughter María are an example that stirs consciences. “You have poisoned everything,” says the widow at one point in the film, addressing those who attacked her husband. That poison penetrated deeply into society.

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