Eceiza, Antxon

(1935)
   Antxón Eceiza completed a law degree in Valladolid University, where he met future producer Elias Querejeta in the mid-1950s. He moved to Madrid in 1957, and entered the Official Film School (at the time named Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinematográficas) to study film direction. In those years, he also worked as a critic and was very active in the cine club movement, strengthened after the Salamanca Conversations. His programming choices reflected his left-wing sympathies, which would eventually bring him into trouble with the authorities. After his studies, he found work in a variety of projects as assistant to artistically ambitious directors like Juan Antonio Bardem, Jacinto Grau, and Manuel Mur Oti.
   His close friendship with Querejeta helped him launch a career as director. The producer financed his earliest documentary shorts, A través de San Sebastián (Through Saint Sebastian, 1960) and A través del fútbol (The World of Football, 1962). Immediately, he evidenced a nonconformist approach to cinema. El próximo otoño (Next Fall, 1963), his feature debut, was set in a small seaside village visited by tourists, and the story about culture clash could be read implicitly as a critique of traditional Spanish society and suggested the need for change. Next came De cuerpo presente (In the Presence of the Body, 1965), his most critically acclaimed film, based on a novel by Gonzalo Suárez (which Eceiza adapted with Francisco Regueiro), set in the world of advertising, and photographed by Luis Cuadrado, who took inspiration from the work of nouvelle vague cinematographers. In this film, he seemed to be moving away from realism while keeping his distance from the more aesthetically avant garde Escuela de Barcelona filmmakers. After Último encuentro (Last Encounter, 1966), he completed his last collaboration with Querejeta, Las secretas intenciones (The Secret Intentions, 1970), a film written with Rafael Azcona, which shows the influence of existentialist literature.
   Historically, Eceiza is considered a representative instance of Nuevo cine español, in terms of objectives, concerns, and style. By 1970, the clash with official institutions became an obstacle, and he went into exile, first to Mexico for four years (where he directed Mira, viento de libertad [ Look, Wind of Freedom, 1977 ] and Complot mongol [ Mongolian Plot, 1978 ]) and then to France. He returned after the Transition and became one of the main supporters of Basque cinema, completing two little-known films: Días de humo (Days of Smoke, 1990) and Felicidades Tovarich (Congratulations, Tovarich, 1995).
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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