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José Antonio Sistiaga

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Title: José Antonio Sistiaga  
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Subject: Drawn-on-film animation
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José Antonio Sistiaga

José Antonio Sistiaga (4 May 1932, San Sebastián) is a Basque artist and experimental filmmaker best known for his feature-length hand-painted "direct" film, ... era erera baleibu izik subua aruaren ... (1968–70).

Early films

Sistiaga exhibited his first film in 1968 at the Bilbao Short Film Festival. Titled ... era erera baleibu izik subua aruaren ... (a nonsense phrase coined by Sistiaga's friend Rafa Ruiz Balerdi), it won a prize for best experimental film. This 10-minute short, hand-painted in a fairly conventional cartoon style, was later renamed De la Luna a Euskadi ("From the Moon to the Basque").

The artist began painting his abstract magnum opus in 1968. It took 17 months of 10-12 hour days to complete. The silent, 75-minute ... era erera baleibu izik subua aruaren ... was first exhibited at Madrid in 1970. Subsequent screenings took place in London, Paris, Barcelona and New York City.

Each of the approximately 108,000 frames in ... era erera is completely unique, and appears onscreen for only 1/24th of a second. No optical printing techniques or special photographic effects were employed in its production.

... era erera baleibu izik subua aruaren ... is the first feature-length example of "direct" cameraless filmmaking, a painstaking technique dating back to the early 1900s. Other well-known artists in the genre include Len Lye, Harry Smith, Norman McLaren (whose work Sistiaga cites as a direct influence) and Stan Brakhage.

Later hand-painted films

In 1988-89, Sistiaga painted Impresiones en la alta atmósfera ("Impressions from the Upper Atmosphere") in 70mm 15-perf horizontal format, intended for exhibition in giant-screen IMAX and Omnimax theaters. A new work in the same format, Han (sobre el sol) ("Han (About the Sun)") was begun in 1992.

Two additional 35mm films using a different technique, Paisaje inquietante Nocturno ("Disturbing Nocturnal Landscape") and En un jardin imaginado ("In an Imaginary Garden"), were completed in 1991.


  • ... era erera baleibu izik subua aruaren ... (retitled De la Luna a Euskadi) (1968) (35mm, silent, 8 minutes)
  • ... era erera baleibu izik subua aruaren ... (1968–70) (35mm, silent, 75 minutes)
  • Ana (1970) (16mm, sound, 7 minutes)
  • Laztanak (1970) (16mm, 85 minutes)
  • Encuentros 1972, Pamplona (1972) (16mm, silent)
  • Impresiones en la alta atmósfera (1988–89) (70mm 15-perf, sound, 7 minutes)
  • Paisaje inquietante Nocturno (1991) (35mm, sound, 14 minutes)
  • En un jardin imaginado (1991) (35mm, sound, 14 minutes)
  • Han (sobre el sol) (1992; in progress) (70mm 15-perf, sound, 7 minutes)


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