Spanish and Basque with English subtitles
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More than half a century ago, many Basques left Spain to look for a better life working as sheepherders in the American West. In Amerikanuak, Nacho Reig looks at the lives of some of the last remaining Basque sheepherders in the United States. The documentary takes place under the vast blue skies and bleak but beautiful winter landscape of the small town of Elko, Nevada. Through the reflections of immigrants such as Juan Juaristi “Parrillas,” an 83-year old boarder at the Basque boardinghouse, the Star Hotel of Elko, we hear about the difficulties that many of these immigrants faced in forging new lives in a foreign country, as well as their nostalgia for what was left behind.
The Basque group Audience created the soundtrack specifically for the film and the sounds of traditional American folk music resonate throughout the tracks, providing the perfect background for this film about overcoming hardship, adaptation, courage, community and a way of life that will soon be gone forever.
“Amerikanuak is a film that moves in a territory between the Northern Exposure series and the movie Brokeback Mountain by Ang Lee.” – Time Out
“Amerikanuak is a realistic vision of how Basque diaspora is located in Elko, Nevada, USA” – EL PAÍS
“Amerikanuak is away from the usual narrative feature documentaries with historical facts, opting for a more cinematic approach.” – DEIA
Amerikanuak narrates part of the history of the conquest of the American West, the struggle for the survival of Basque immigrants who worked as shepherds in the harsh mountains of Nevada. It is a history completely unknown outside the borders of Euskadi. For me as a filmmaker it was very exciting to capture the last moments of a type of life that is dissapearing and to see this group of Basques overcoming difficult moments thanks to friendship and to a sense of community.”