Taboo-breaking Basque comedy is blockbuster in Spain

Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:37am EDT
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By Emma Pinedo

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish filmgoers are lining up for a surprise hit comedy about Basques and separatist guerrillas - complete with jokes about car-bombings - in a film that would have been unthinkable in Spain before now.

The movie, "8 Apellidos Vascos" (8 Basque Surnames), has viewers in stitches over the cultural divide between a slick-haired young man from southern Spain and his Basque girlfriend.

"It is very, very healthy for all of us that we are laughing at ourselves and especially that people in troubled areas of the country are able to laugh at themselves," Enrique Gonzalez Macho, president of the Spanish Film Academy, said in a television interview on Monday.

The Basque separatist movement ETA declared an end to its armed struggle in 2011, after decades of violence in which more than 100 people were killed. Hundreds of ETA members have been jailed for life.

The pro-ETA newspaper Gara, which was not amused by the movie, ran a scathing review.

"Nothing good could come of a production with an advertising campaign based on the same jokes about Basques and Andalucians that were told during the Franco era," wrote critic Mikel Insausti.

Non-Basque actors playing Basques were unconvincing as was the Basque hamlet created by the filmmakers, he said.

But the taboo-breaking film racked up 16 million euros ($22 million) at the box office in its first three weekends - a boon for the stricken national film industry where it is rare for a Spanish movie to gross more than 10 million euros.   Continued...

People stand in line to buy tickets for the film "8 Apellidos Vascos" (8 Basque Surnames) at a cinema in central Madrid March 30, 2014. REUTERS/Andrea Comas