'Basques in the West' features the Basque communities living in the US and the changes they are making to keep tradition alive while at the same time sustaining their livelihoods.
Basques in the West
When Basque-American novel film director Amaya Oxarango-Ingram arrived to present her film on Diaspora culture at the 5th World Basque Conference held in Donostia-San Sebastian, she also visited the baserri where her grandparents had come from and felt everything had come full circle.
Strange though it may seem, it was the first time in the Basque Country for Amaya, born in Idaho and passionate about Basque culture from a very early age. She had always wanted to make a film that celebrated the American chapter in Basque history and presenting it in the Basque Country as she reconnected with her family was a "once in a lifetime trip."
"It was so wonderful, I can't really put it into words. I've been dreaming and dreaming of those moments for so long that it almost didn't seem real. I'm sure I will return many more times to the Basque Country... but those trips will never replace the memories of my first experiences there. It's something I will treasure forever," the Idaho director says.
At the Diaspora congress, where she showed some parts of "Basques in the West", she had a great response from conference attendants. People really enjoyed the film, a work still in progress, but the most moving part for the Basque-American director were her conversations with some of the youth from Gaztemundu, a Basque Government program for the youth of Basque clubs from around the world.
"All of them were from South America and mostly from Argentina, a few had tears in their eyes. They had no idea about what the Basques went through here in the US during those early days of immigration. They saw the struggles, the strength and the passion the Basques here have for their heritage and they want to come to Boise now. Those reviews, for me, accomplished so much," Amaya Oxarango-Ingram explains.
Tradition Vs. Innovation
'Basques in the West' features the Basque communities living in the western states of the US and the changes they are making to keep tradition alive while at the same time sustaining their livelihoods.
It is different from previous films on the subject of Basques in America because it focuses more on what Basque culture in America is like today.
"Other films I have seen have focused solely on the history of Basque immigration to the US and the Basque legacy in the sheep herding industry. Of course our film will touch on these things…you can't have the present without of the past…but the truth is Basque culture here in the States is different than it was 30 years ago. I want to try to dispel this notion that we're all a bunch of sheepherders," explains Amaya Oxarango-Ingram.
According to Amaya, through the film they are attempting to show the central tension which Basques in the Diaspora are currently struggling with; the tension between keeping up with and preserving tradition and accepting innovation and moving forward. "What aspects of a culture do you preserve and what aspects do you adapt because of the lifestyle you're living and more importantly…Why?" asks Amaya.
The Basque-American director, together with Brent Barras (Canyons Studio), have already finished shooting and have been in post production since September. For the film, they have interviewed 83 people and have a little over a 100 hours of footage.
At the moment, both directors are focusing on finding finances to afford the film editing. "It's a huge project. I think if we had three more months of solid editing we will be finished. The problem right now is finances. We need help in post production costs," Amaya Oxarango-Ingram says.