One of the most emblematic figures in Spanish cinema, the producer, Elías Querejeta, received in 2011 the Zinemira Lifetime Achievement Award during the 59th San Sebastián Film Festival.
Born in Hernani in 1934 and a former football player for Real Sociedad, Querejeta set up his own production company in 1963, and thanks to this some of the essential films of what was called “New Spanish Cinema” were made. Querejeta opted for a series of young directors who revitalised the film scene, such as Antxon Ezeiza (El próximo otoño, De cuerpo presente) or Carlos Saura (La caza, Peppermint Frappé, Ana y los lobos, La prima Angélica, Cría cuervos, Mamá cumple cien años or Deprisa, deprisa, among others). Throughout a film career that stretched over five decades with more than 50 films, Querejeta always supported the talent of new filmmakers who would end up becoming established figures in Spanish cinema: Víctor Erice (El espíritu de la colmena, El sur), Ricardo Franco (Pascual Duarte), Jaime Chávarri (El desencanto, A un Dios desconocido), Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón (Habla mudita, Feroz), Montxo Armendáriz (Tasio, 27 horas, Las cartas de Alou, Historias del Kronen), Gracia Querejeta (El último viaje de Robert Rylands, Cuando vuelvas a mi lado, 7 mesas de billar francés), Fernando León de Aranoa (Familia, Barrio, Los lunes al sol) or Javier Corcuera (La espalda del mundo).
Querejeta had a close relationship with the San Sebastián Festival, since the time he won the Silver Shell in 1969 for the film Los desafíos. Four years later, El espíritu de la colmena won the Golden Shell. In 1976, Querejeta withdrew his film El desencanto from the Official Section to protest against the repression by the police of the Basque people at Jesús María Zabala’s funeral. Later on, other productions of his won awards at the Festival: Award for Best Film in Spanish and Best Actor for A un Dios desconocido in 1977, Special Jury Award for Mamá cumple cien años in 1979, Silver Shell for 27 horas in 1986, Golden Shell for Las cartas de Alou in 1990, Special Jury Mention for El aliento del diablo, by Paco Lucio, in 1990, Silver Shell for Barrio in 1998, Special Jury Mention for Cuando vuelvas a mi lado in 1999 and Golden Shell for Los lunes al sol in 2002 and Award for Best Script and Best Actress for Siete mesas de billar francés in 2007. Other films produced by Querejeta were selected to compete at San Sebastián: Tasio (New Directors section, 1984), El último viaje de Robert Rylands (1996) and Cuando vuelvas a mi lado (1999). The documentaries La espalda del mundo (2000), Perseguidos (2004), Noticias de una guerra (2006) and Al final del túnel (2011) were also screened in the Zabaltegi Specials section.
Elías Querejeta left us on the 9th of June 2013, at the age of 78.