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The Basque Institute of Architecture becomes a cinema this week

  • The Galernak short film festival will take place in the Sala del Concejo, a space specially fitted out for the occasion, which will also host one of the new exhibitions of the Mugak/ Biennial. 
  • The festival is celebrating its first edition, which, with the theme 'The Atlantic', includes audiovisual pieces produced by students from schools of architecture from all over Europe. 
  • After the screenings, Galernak will offer several lectures on film and architecture, with international experiences narrated directly, such as the construction of a cinema in Syria or the revitalisation of public spaces after the war in Croatia. 
  • San Sebastian Festival joins Mugak/ as a partner for the first time, organising a conference on film festivals. It will include representatives from the Venice, Berlin, Vienna and Cannes Fortnight film festivals. 

Architecture and film come together again at the Basque Institute of Architecture. It will take place this week as part of the Mugak/ International Architecture Biennial of the Basque Country, with an exhibition, a new short film competition called Galernak and several conferences. In the organisation of the programme, both the Higher Technical School of Architecture of the UPV/EHU and Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola have taken part, as well as the San Sebastian Festival, which is collaborating in the Biennial for the first time.

The programme was presented this morning at the Instituto de Arquitectura de Euskadi (located in the Old Part of San Sebastian), which will host all the activities. The presentation was attended by the curator of the Mugak/ Biennial, José Ángel Medina; the deputy director of the Higher Technical School of Architecture (ETSA) of the UPV/EHU, Izaskun Aseguinolaza; the curator of the exhibition and Galernak Festival, Ekain Olaizola; and the coordinator of the Research Department of Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola (EQZE) and co-responsible for the Area of Thought and Debate of the San Sebastian Festival, Pablo La Parra.

To host the extensive programme, the Council Hall of the Institute of Architecture becomes a cinema from today: the space has been specially fitted out for the screening of Galernak's short films. For the rest of the days, it will be the setting for the exhibition 'The architecture of cinema in San Sebastian', organised by the ETSA in collaboration with EQZE. 

After 125 years of history, nowadays cinema can be viewed individually anywhere, and cinema spaces seem to be in crisis. "The aim of this project is to analyse what cinemas have been like up to now in order to reformulate them from an architectural point of view. To give a new twist to the typology so that they can once again become attractive meeting places that are filled with audiences", explained Ekain Olaizola.  

The exhibition consists of a historical journey through the spaces dedicated to cinema in Donostia-San Sebastián. From the first cinematographs installed in the Amara fairs or in the cafés on the Boulevard to the large multiplexes currently under construction, passing through landmarks such as the Palacio Bellas Artes or the Astoria. This is the result of a study carried out by the ETSA and EQZE, which presents the starting point for reflecting on the spaces that cinema needs today. 

All of this can be seen in the exhibition, which consists of a similar kind of atlas made up of five historical maps (1900, 1936, 1975, 2000 and 2020), plans and photographs of the cinemas that form part of this catalogue. Twenty-eight spaces have been classified, ranging from buildings that are clearly cinemas to others with various uses, such as the Kursaal or the Teatro Principal. Each of the spaces is arranged chronologically and the evolution of the cinemas over the years is shown. All the information is also summarised in a model of the city that shows the cinemas that are still active today and those that have disappeared. This afternoon at 18h will be the opening of the exhibition, which will remain open for a week: from today until 30 November.

Galernak is created in the context of Mugak/ 

The Biennial will host a short film competition for the first time. It is the Atlantic Architecture Film Festival Galernak and it will start today at 19h, after the opening of the exhibition 'The architecture of cinema in San Sebastian'. The hall itself has been fitted out as a cinema for the occasion, with felt canvases that remind us of the earliest cinemas. The exhibition will show audiovisual pieces by students from architecture schools all over Europe who, based on the topic 'The Atlantic', have captured an architectural view of this geographical area. It will end on Friday 26th with the prize-giving ceremony.

Until then, the public will be able to enjoy a wide-ranging programme of short films to be screened at 18:00, followed by lectures at 19:00. This afternoon, in particular, after the opening ceremony, the documentary 'La innovació dins de casa' ('Innovation inside the home'), by the Valencia School of Architecture, will be shown for the first time. Tomorrow, Wednesday, the first four short films will be screened, followed by a space for exchange with first-hand accounts of international experiences. Examples will include a project by a Berlin school to build a Syrian cinema and the UNSEEN initiative in Croatia, which created cultural events for the revitalisation of public spaces using the infrastructure of the socialist system that was not invested in after the war. There will also be an intervention on the path opened by the Lumiére brothers to architecture for cinema after the first screening open to the public at the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris. 

On Thursday 25, four more selected short films will be screened, followed by presentations by guests from the Venice, Berlin, Vienna and Cannes festivals on innovations in terms of film venues and projects for future editions. This day is organised by the San Sebastian Festival, together with EQZE, which is collaborating with Mugak/ for the first time.

Galernak will come to an end on Friday 26th. At 18h, the documentary 'Artesanos del diseño', by the Habic cluster, will be screened, which narrates the beginnings of eight companies that, in the 70s and 80s, turned design furniture into a new industrial sector in the Basque Country. The awards ceremony will follow, giving three prizes: the Galernak prize for Best Short Film, worth €2,500, the Mirada Galernak prize for the most architectural piece, worth €1,000, and the Galernak Audience Prize, awarded by a vote of the audience and worth €500. 

International film festivals in Mugak/ 

Representatives from the Venice, Berlin, Vienna and Cannes Fortnight film festivals will meet in San Sebastian on Thursday 25th. The meeting, organised by the San Sebastian Festival and Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola, will analyse the spatial dimension of film festivals and their connection with the city and will be entitled 'Film festivals and urban transformations'. 

The event will be attended by the director of Special Projects at the Venice Film Festival, Arianna Laurenzi; the executive director of the Berlin Festival, Mariette Rissenbeek; the artistic director of the Viennale, Eva Sangiorgi; and the general delegate of the Cannes Directors' Fortnight, Paolo Moretti. They will be moderated by Pablo La Parra Pérez, the coordinator of the EQZE Research Department and head of the project 'Zinemaldia 70: todas la historias posibles'.

"From its Thinking and Debate area, the San Sebastian Festival wants to lead a line of reflection on the urban and architectural dimension of film festivals and anticipate the great challenges facing the international festival circuit", said La Parra. The conference will explore the urban histories of film festivals to find out how they have responded and adapted to times of crisis and urban transformation. Among the topics to be addressed are the different ways in which festivals interact with their urban environments, the recent and present effects of the pandemic, and how film festivals are coping with the disappearance of commercial cinemas and traditional exhibition spaces in their urban environments. 

Admission will be free until full capacity is reached and there will be a simultaneous translation service. It will be through Zoom, which attendees will need to access via their own mobile phone and listen through their headphones. 


The Programme is being prepared