THE CAMERA LOVES BILBAO
Bilbao is a cinema city. Its streets have been the set for 110 feature films, short films and documentaries for over a century and almost 100 advertisements in the past thirty years.
Bilbao was interesting as a filming location when it had a grey, rainy, harsh industrial profile. It is equally interesting now, when it boasts buildings of cutting edge design; sunny, colourful parks; families riding bikes and museums of international renown.
Bilbao is cinema and loves cinema. The city adores the silver screen and its citizens feel proud and happy when they recognise a part of their city or neighbourhood in a filmed scene. It was in 1906 that a clapperboard snapped for the first time. It occurred in a highly popular documentary on the blast furnaces. The film “Edurne, modista bilbaína” (Edurne, the seamstress from Bilbao), about a miner and his family who are evicted from their house, gained even more popularity and recognition. Filmed in 1926, only a few metres of it have survived, all of which are rejects.
At one point in its history, Bilbao seemed destined to be a location for documentaries, but in the 60s it was recovered for feature films thanks to devoted directors enamoured with Bilbao’s special charisma, like Pedro Olea, who says “It was a city designed for film noir”. The 80s brought an avalanche of films on the city’s difficult social situation at the time: the dismantling of heavy industry, unemployment, terrorism and also the strong personality of its scenery.
Bilbao has reinvented itself and the film industry began to hunt for other scenes within the city. Then came the Guggenheim Museum and every advertisement wanted to boast some of its titanium reflections. Bilbao is now design and modernity. The miracle of the transformation has happened and the film industry has fallen in love with this eternally attractive city again. The camera loved Bilbao when it was as grey as lead and continues to love it now that it is modern and cheerful. That is why it is now, and always will be, a cinema city.