San Sebastian Festival to Proceed With ‘No Me Ilame Ternera’ Screenings Despite Alleged Terrorist Links

Organizers of the San Sebastian Film Festival said on Wednesday that they would proceed with scheduled screenings of the film “No Me Ilame Ternera,” despite calls for it to be withdrawn. According to objectors the film has connections to terrorism.

Festival organizers said that they were aware of – but had not received – a letter supposedly signed by 514 people, asking for the previously selected film to be withdrawn from the festival.

“We do not share their opinion that the film ‘No me llame Ternera’ should be withdrawn from the program of this coming edition of the festival for having Josu Urrutikoetxea as its protagonist and the fact that he held a very high position within the terrorist group, ETA,” the festival said.

ETA was an armed Basque nationalist separatist organization that operated in the Basque region, including the area where the San Sebastian festival is held, between 1959 and 2018. It was alleged to have assassinated a police officer in San Sebastian, bombed the city’s railway station and to have kidnapped the German Consul in the city. It formally ended its operations in 2018.

“The non-fiction [film] to which we now refer neither justifies nor whitewashes ETA, because this festival would not screen a film with such premises. To mention a recent example in a week remembering the 50th anniversary of Pinochet’s coup d’état in Chile, we could never program a film which justified that violent attack on democracy and its subsequent reprisals on thousands of victims. That said, what we did program in San Sebastian was a documentary containing interviews with some of those playing the lead part in the coup: ‘Pinochet y sus tres generals’ (‘Pinochet and His Three Generals,’ José María Berzosa, 2004). This documentary demonstrated that giving someone a voice is by no means to agree with them,” said the festival in a statement.  

“At the end of the day, we consider that the film ‘No me llame Ternera’ should be seen first and criticized later, and not the other way around. In this respect, we would be willing to organize a private screening for a small number of people representing the group.”

The festival runs Sept. 22-30.

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