“Everybody experiences the movie in their own, personal way”
~ Asier Altuna, Amama’s director
My parents were just a couple of teenagers when they arrived in the Basque Country. My mom left first to move in with her dad and stepmom. My dad, so in love with her, followed her shortly. He didn’t quite make it all the way to Ortuella, settling in Eibar for a while. He found work and dated my mom until they got married. A few months after I was born, they left their rental in Portugalete and bought a house in Ortuella, where they still reside, 44 years later.
After Amama’s screening last night, I saw how many audience members were overcome with emotion as they shared with the director the feelings elicited by his movie. Some grew up in the Basque Country, much like the Amama’s family, but life later sent them abroad. Others were first or second generation Basque-Americans whose ancestors owned a baserri, also passed down from generation to generation.
I never experienced the baserri life style while growing up. Actually, I can’t say I ever did, although I did come in contact with it briefly over the summer. Ortuella has nothing to do with the world presented in this movie, so I was grateful and excited to get acquainted with it. For a fleeting few weeks, I even dreamed of slipping into that world some years down the road.
From the minute I heard where the director was from, I knew this movie was going to be different for me. The initial scene only confirmed it. The Transporter van moved up the narrow steep road leading up to the baserri, which could have well been the road I traveled—so very slowly and with the tightest grip on the stick I could manage—more than once this past July.
The movie explores the differences between the older and younger generations: The younger one feels trapped in the baserri, while the older one would suffocate in the outside world. The dad wants nothing to do with change, and his unwillingness to let go almost breaks the family apart.
I tried to concentrate, follow the plot, immerse myself in the story, but I was constantly reminded of something wonderful that is no more. The scenery, the dad’s stubbornness, his need to keep busy working, wood chopping, the way they spoke Basque. After a while, I allowed my thoughts to fly where they pleased, as keeping them locked will only prolongue this feeling of failure that seems to have found its comfy place at the pit of my stomach.
I bought the movie before leaving the Basque Center last night. Maybe I’ll watch it again soon.
- For my friends