Daily | Elías Querejeta, 1930 – 2013

Elías Querejeta

Elías Querejeta

Elías Querejeta, the producer of many of the greatest modern classics made by Spain’s most distinguished directors under and after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, died Sunday at his Madrid home,” reports John Hopewell in Variety. “A member of San Sebastian’s cine-club, a bastion of nascent rebellion against Franco, Querejeta directed two documentaries—A través de San Sebastián and A través del fútbol with Anton Eceiza—before moving to Madrid and into production in 1963; two years later, Querejeta produced Carlos Saura’s The Hunt, a flagship of the so-called New Spanish Cinema, a move towards a more modern cinema made by young directors and subsidized by the more liberal wing of Franco’s government…. Querejeta went on to produce films that again questioned Spaniards’ seemingly atavistic propensity towards internecine violence (Ricardo Franco’s 1975 Pascual Duarte,), plumbed the traumas of the Spanish Civil War (Victor Erice’s 1973 masterpiece The Spirit of the Beehive) and questioned Spaniard’s ability to shrug off the past (Jaime Chavarri’s trenchant 1976-1980 trilogy of The Disenchantment, To a Unknown God, and Dedicated To…).”

Noting that Querejeta produced 55 films and wrote 23, El PaísGregorio Belinchón focuses on the partnership with Saura (who’s said, “We are like an elderly couple with a lot of successful children”) and adds that “Querejeta received all the honors that Spain can bestow on its filmmakers: the National Film Award in 1986 and the Film Academy’s Gold Medal in 1998, when he was told by academy president José Luis Borau that ‘Spanish cinema has followed in your wake for a long time, feeding off your prestige, your cheek and your courage.'”

In 2011, the University of Wales Press published Tom Whittaker’s The Films of Elías Querejeta: A Producer of Landscapes, a book putting forth the argument that landscape in films Querejeta produced “can be understood as a site of political struggle against Francoism and Spain’s embrace of neoliberal capitalism.”

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