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“Here, we build a community of filmmakers that goes way beyond studies”

Industry Report: European Film Schools

Carlos Muguiro • Director, Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola

by 

To mark the start of the application period to be part of the educational institution’s fifth intake, its head honcho breaks down some of the details

Carlos Muguiro • Director, Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola

Carlos Muguiro (the screenwriter and editor of On Football [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Sergio Oksman
film profile
]
) boasts a lengthy career linked to the audiovisual world, as he was the founder of Punto de Vista and headed up the Documentary department of the ECAM, in addition to occupying many other posts. For the last five years, he has served as the director of the Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola, which is based in the Tabakalera and has strong ties to the San Sebastián Film Festival. On 1 February, it opens its application period for participation in the 2022-23 programme.

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Cineuropa: What makes the new course, which begins in a few months’ time, different?
Carlos Muguiro:
The school forms part of an ecosystem, that of the Tabakalera, which also hosts the Basque Film Archive, the San Sebastián Film Festival and its own centre for contemporary culture. It’s a place where we all share the same passion for film and passing it on, and that’s why we want it to be a physical, on-site course. We are fostering a community of filmmakers, and this year, we are also being supported by the Ibermedia programme, through training support, receiving around $60,000 in grants for Latin American students. This is a public school, financed by the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council, and it’s important for us to ensure that it’s accessible by anyone who wishes to be educated and be part of our community.

Is it this sense of community that differentiates it from other film schools?
This centre was born of the film institutions that I mentioned above, which, when they moved into the renovated building that formerly housed the tobacco factory, began to reflect on how to pass on accumulated experience, how it can be imparted to the new generations. We all inhabit this building, and we decided to create a film school, not just to make movies (by training crew), but rather to be a fully rounded film school, which ponders what cinema is, through subjects that tackle the past, memory, heritage, legacies, restoration and materiality. Film is also an archive of images and sounds accumulated during the 20th century. Likewise, it’s everything that is going on around us right now, including the debate about distribution, access and mediation, which is something that is extremely complex that binds us to the present, and which we also address. And the third strand has to do with the cinema of the future. Ever since the school was founded, we have been thinking of how to create a centre that would tackle all of these dilemmas and where these three eras of film would be in constant dialogue with each other. This is the defining characteristic of the school, where there are filmmakers with new projects, alongside others who wish to shine a light on films that were shot 80 years ago and which are deteriorating – but thanks to the work of the restorers, viewers can access them again.

So are these your school’s three specialisations?
EQZE is structured around three departments: archives and preservation, curation and programming, and cinematic creation. There is a fourth department, focusing on research, which does not offer studies per se, but it’s where we develop research projects related to the past, present and future of film, which the students can also take part in. It’s yet another driving force behind our institution.

How long does the course last, and what stages does it involve?
The course lasts 15-16 months: it begins with the San Sebastián Film Festival and continues right up until the following edition, thus marking the beginning and the end of the academic part. After the second gathering in Donostia, once the classes have finished, the students complete their final piece of work, from any of the specialisations that we offer, until December or January. It’s interesting that the students arrive at the first San Sebastián Film Festival as spectators, but at the second one, those same students can actually get involved: with the works they have created, with professional internships or as filmmakers. There were five titles by our students taking part in the most recent edition of the festival, within different sections: a clutch of short films and projects in development. The school has a procedure in place to continue supporting those projects after the studies have come to a conclusion. We understand that we form part of a transition process that aims to generate new cinematographic realities.

What are the classes like?
We let 15 people in per specialisation, and our teachers have plenty of experience in the audiovisual world: this allows us to have the requisite flexibility to adapt to each student. The school is conceived as a studio, where the students can come and work, regardless of whether or not there are classes. The entirety of the programming at Tabakalera, including the library, means it can obtain facilities and content that are complemented by the EQZE’s academic programme.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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