- Uribe, Imanol
- (1950- )Uribe belongs to the strongly auteurist generation of the early 1980s, such as Pedro Almodóvar or Fernando Trueba, filmmakers who fought for independence, set up their own film companies, and worked from their own scripts and ideas. His first film work was in the documentary genre. El proceso de Burgos (The Burgos Trials, 1979) was presented as an investigation of the ways in which the Franco government dealt with ETA militants. La fuga de Segovia (Escape from Segovia, 1981) had similar thematic concerns and was likewise inspired by real events (a group of ETA members broke out of a Segovia prison), but it was a feature film. At this time, he began a crucial collaboration with cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, who would later go on to light and find the exact mood for most of his successive projects.Uribe's next feature, La muerte de Mikel (Mikel's Death, 1984), a box-office hit, told the story of a homosexual Basque nationalist militant Mikel (Imanol Arias), who comes out only to find hostile reactions from his party comrades. Although confusing in its treatment of homosexuality, the film suggested depths of unrest and prejudice in traditional provincial society. At this point, enticed by funding schemes set up by the autonomous government, Uribe settled in the Basque country and set up his own production company. After two projects, Adiós pequeña (Farewell, Little One, 1986) and La luna negra (Black Moon, 1989), which followed the guidelines proposed by the politicians but did not achieve the expected results, he accepted El rey pasmado (The Baffled King, 1991), a big-budget costume drama set in the court of Philip IV, which was an adaptation from a historical novel by Gonzalo Torrente Ballester about the ripples generated when the King expresses the wish to see his wife naked, scandalizing conservative priests. The film was tightly plotted and attracted a glittering ensemble cast (including Fernando Fernán Gómez, Juan Diego, Eusebio Poncela, María Barranco, Javier Gurruchaga, Joaquim de Almeida, and Gabino Diego) who gave vivid performances. Its success gave him renewed confidence and the support of the industry, which he would use to fund his next and most personal project.The Basque country and ETA have been an important thematic thread in his work. Días contados (Running out of Time, 1994), his best known film, dared to humanize a terrorist (played by Carmelo Gómez) focusing dispassionately on his relationship with a heroin-addicted prostitute while he is preparing an attack in Madrid. The film did not take sides in a political conflict, but this was precisely the point. It went on to win numerous awards, including eight Goyas in that year.Uribe's most recent films are all substantial projects with high production values, if not as personal as in previous years. Bwana (1996) is an adaptation from a stage play about a middle-class couple (played by Andrés Pajares and Uribe's partner María Barranco) on a beach outing, who meet a black immigrant washed up by the waves as he attempts to enter the country illegally. Uribe made the most of the culture clash and the implicit racism in Spanish society. Plenilunio (Full Moon, 1999) and La carta esférica (The Nautical Chart, 2007) were further literary adaptations, from Antonio Muñoz Molina and Arturo Pérez Reverte, respectively. The former centered on a police investigation to capture a serial killer. In the latter, he returned to the world of 17th-century Spain with less successful results.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.