October 29, 2020

‘Homeland’: between hatred and forgiveness



He July 13, 1997, the one who signed these lines was 12 years old. That summer was special, I had found a lizard in the mountains and I gladly decided to adopt it. Consequence: Juancha had to eat live insects every day. With my bike, in a town on the Cantabrian coast very close to Bilbao, I would go every day to a field to hunt grasshoppers to return home to give the bug its ration.

But that day when I returned, the whole family was glued to the television. A young man of only 29 years old had been killed by the terrorist gang ETA after two days of infernal kidnapping and a divided country waiting for a result that finally caused people to take to the streets. That is my most traumatic memory about ETA.

Michelangelo White, councilor of the Popular Party in Ermua, was one of the more than 800 people who died at the hands of the band, culminating in the cessation of arms in 2011. “Faced with violence and repression, dialogue and agreement must characterize the new cycle. The recognition of Euskal Herria and respect for the popular will must prevail over imposition. That is the desire of the majority of Basque citizens” said three hooded Ku Klux Klan-style men in a statement. It was a before and after in the history of Spain and the starting point of one of the series of the moment, ‘Homeland, based on the award-winning novel by the writer Fernando Aranburu. “I had to live the Transition era with toughness at all levels. I have family and friends on one side and the other.”

“I had to live the time of the Transition with toughness at all levels. I have family and friends on one side and the other”

Patxi Santamaría – Actor

Controversies and debates surround the production of HBO, what has already released three chapters of the six that make up the miniseries and that has opened a wound that for many had not yet healed. Composed entirely of actors and actresses Basque Country, ‘Homeland’ brings the young people of today, ignorant of what happened very recently, to a reality that has been the experience of many for years. A murdered, Txato, a Basque businessman, and two matriarchal families confronted by hatred and represented by two women, Bittori and Miren, who could rather be the protagonists of some ‘western’ recorded in the deserts of Almería.

“I had to live the time of Transition with toughness at all levels. Demonstrations, police repression … when I started in theater school they were the lead years of ETA. I have family and friends on one side and the other, like many people here. This story has touched us directly and for us it is a sensitive issue “, he explains. Patxi Santamaría (Guipúzcoa, 1959), the actor who plays the priest Don Serapio in television production.

Patxi Santamaría is Don Serapio. HBO


His character has become a kind of villain in a plot that for him “is not entirely true to the truth.” “When I went to the casting I proposed that this character have some regret, that was not so flat. Who would have believed that a priest would tell the wife of a murdered man not to return to his town … there have been letters from the clergy who have wanted to make it clear that many parish priests, in the abertzales era, were totally against the violence “, relates the interpreter.

His role, although secondary, brings to the table the debate on how small towns lived during the era of the most violent terrorism. There was one death every 72 hours, families destroyed, rage, protests … but, Who were the victims?

“El Txato would be the victim on one side and Jokin on the other”, sentence Lander Otaola (Barakaldo, 1898), actor who plays the ETA friend of the protagonist and who does not have a very well agreed ending. Otaola has gotten into the role of an ETA member up to 12 times. “The subject of this series is very controversial and it has touched us all. It will create controversy, but the important thing is that it is talked about, that there is forgiveness for both parties“, he comments.

Lander Otaola is Jokin. HBO


Because it is in forgiveness and in dialogue -or the non-dialogue- on which this series is based, which began its journey tied to the controversy over its promotional poster, where the assassinated by the gang is represented in front of an ETA man tortured in a barracks. “Viewers will empathize with the character of Jokin. NOr we wanted to create a bad guy, we wanted him to like him, that it was the counterpoint to the character of Joxe Mari, who is more rude and violent, “he says.

“Human beings are much more generous and interesting in how we show ourselves. I know cases of people who have forgiven, who have sought alternatives … the pain of each one is respectable but there were also other victims, it is not a question of matching. Outside the Basque Country there are things that are not contemplated, but there is also pain on the part of many people that is not understood “, asserts Santamaría.” It is not a question of understanding or not, what is interesting is what awakens in each viewer “.

“It is not a question of understanding or not, what is interesting is what awakens in each viewer”

Mikele Urroz – Actress

In this sense, Mikele Urroz (Navarra), actress who plays Josune, Joxe Maria’s young girlfriend, is clear: “‘Homeland’ is a look at a story and that always generates dialogue. When I read the book that seemed interesting to me. There are looks like people in the world“.

And in Aranburu’s gaze a story is reflected, just one, which, although similar to many of those that were lived at the time, is still a fiction and a single vision. “It is not a question of understanding or not, what is interesting is what awakens in each viewer. Understanding the plot at an empathic level is possible, but hey … if it serves to continue talking about it, welcome, “says Urroz.

Without intention and with respect

Because the actors in this series have been wrapped in an aura of mystery and curiosity through a story that is still too present in the memory of many. “We have to review our history, it may be early for many people, but we have to do it“says Santamaría from the other end of the phone line.” There are so many people who have so much pain inside that in the end the way you live it is always different. ”

“There are so many people who have so much pain inside that in the end the way you live it is always different”

Iñigo Aranbarri – Actor

Faced with the most ideological violence, the looks, the comments and the ‘Gora ETA’, the families destroyed by misfortune were, on many occasions, forced to emigrate with the mark of shame on their shoulders. This part of the story, very marked in the series, is one of the ones that is creating the most controversy and that, at the time, was, in part, a reality. “There are so many people who have so much pain inside that in the end the way you live it is always different. Bittori’s character, his children … they all react differently, just like the other family … each one tries to live in their own way a situation in which they are corseted, they have no freedom, they cannot do what they want “, Explain Iñigo Aranbarri (Guipúzcoa, 1983), one of the main actors and who gives life to the son of Txato. “This novel and this series are still fiction, in real life you read testimonies and there is not one that resembles another. In the case of my character, he does what he can.”

Iñigo Aranbarri is Xabier. HBO


Aranbarri represents a character who survives between pain and stagnation. “I have a lot of compassion for him. Xabier remains anchored in the past and cannot get out of that pothole. In life sometimes it happens with some things that when you assimilate them they leave you. It creates a lot of tenderness and empathy in me because he is deep in the hole and cannot get out due to lack of support … “, he reels to add that” when this type of thing happens there is always something left, the skin will never be how it was, that scar will remind you of what happened, that pain will not vanish completely. “” ‘Homeland’ is about forgiveness to keep moving forward. If you stay anchored in resentment, it is useless. ”

“‘Patria’ is about forgiveness to keep moving forward. If you stay anchored in resentment, it is useless”

Lander Otaola – Actor

According to the actor, both HBO, the directors and the entire ‘Patria’ team have tried treat the story with respect and without any intention from the first moment. “We wanted to make the characters empathizable, that people put themselves in their place.”

And so, with forgiveness in one hand and hatred and pain in the other, both actors and society are faced with a story that could well be projected in schools and institutes, and that, although it only shows a part, resolves all feelings That produces such a conflict in an acceptable way. “‘Patria’ is about forgiveness to keep moving forward. If you stay anchored in resentment it is useless“, says Otaola, who also adds that” I think there is more and more forgiveness, there is a wound that will take a long time to heal or that will never heal, but the human being is smart and needs it. There is already 70% forgiveness and 30% no forgiveness. Not only in this conflict, in everyone in general. ”

Dialogue, understanding, scar, time, questions, relationships, emotion, intensity or reflection are some of the words that come to mind when these actors are asked for a definition in three words. “We have to see it“, says Otaola to the question. And he is right. You have to see it.

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