Medem was born in Basque San Sebastion in 1958 and has made several films,Vacas,Red Squirrel, Sex and Lucia amongst them.He had a creative block when coming to make a film about hate centred on the Basque country as he had become insular,he decided to make Basque Ball:The Skin Against the Stone. He reconciled his creative energy with the subject of hate and would allow his complete immersion in the conflict that still tied him to his birthplace,to confront aspects of the Basque country that he knew was blocking political negotiations and his own creativity.This is his 1st documentary:his aim to interview as many people and then to edit them together.He
creates a dialogue or `polyphony' of voices from about a 100 people interviewed,journalists,academics, Basque Nationalists, politicians,victims,victims'families, imprisoned terrorists's families.He maintained his objectivity by staying at `a fearful distance',flying through it all like a bird. Missing are members of the ruling Partido Popular and ETA.The controversy that followed the film's release at the 2004 San Sebastian Film Festival that was stirred in the Spanish media, distrustful about the content and supposed bias,saying it was unbalanced and PP saying it was suspicious,without having seen it.Medem's political stance is invisible, in the diversity of dialogue he may show an inclination to the left in the prominence awarded the Ibarretxe Plan and the presentation of certain historical events.There is a greater humanist context for the local,national and universal questions posed by the speakers.Medem has edited down from 7 hours(also exists) of film and his technique has one speaker intercut rapidly with other speakers or bits of documentary or fiction(usually from his own films) and this can lead to confusion for the audience not acquainted with this subject or these speakers,who are often opposed to each other. You don't often know who is speaking as it goes through a rapid series of talking heads.Also there is a question of taste when he cuts from news footage of a bomb blast where a victim has lost their legs to a scene in a fictional film or he alternates the wife of an ETA prisoner with the victim's wife of an ETA bomb.That aside this is a remarkable achievement by a commercial Spanish film director who has risked a lot to make it.In the film he explores the fact that the Basque people can be traced all the way back into prehistory.The Basque language(like Etruscan) is not in the Indo-European group of languages.The Basque region of the Western Pyrenees is in southern France and northern Spain.The Basque people have a lot of traditions of sport which include cracking a hard rubber ball against a concrete wall using a scooped curved basket on the end of a hand;there is rams butting or oxen made to drag heavy pieces of stone or there is stone-lifting.The Basque people have a tendency to atavism and a love of the rural: a country of rugged beauty They want there own province to be independent of the Spanish state.Like the IRA, extremists have been running a bomb campaign in mainland Spain due to intransigence.Medem's achievement is to open up a dialogue of information in a taboo subject open to bans and that is a great trust builder.A unique film.Their most famous writer says the Basque country should become a city open to all comers.