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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Spanish cinema breaks ETA taboo
ETA bombing in Madrid - January 2000
ETA resumed its campaign of violence in January
By Daniel Schweimler in Madrid

Spain is still celebrating the victory of Pedro Almodovar's film "All About My Mother" at the Oscar awards.

But during those festivities there was another significant development in Spanish cinema with the release across the country of the film, Yoyes.

Yoyes was the codename of Dolores Gonzalez Catarain - one of the most senior women in the Basque separatist movement ETA.

More on ETA
ETA's bloody record
Leaders in the shadows
Timeline: Key events
The Irish connection
Who are the Basques?
The film covers Yoyes' early days with the separatist movement, how she took over leadership of its political wing in France and then - disillusioned after a particularly bloody attack on a Madrid cafe - left ETA and went into exile in Mexico.

While there she underwent a change. She studied, had a child and radically altered her political views.

She went back to Spain in the early 1980s after the country had returned to democracy but in 1986 was killed in a crowded marketplace by a former ETA colleague who saw her as a traitor.

Breaking new ground

The subject of ETA has always been a sensitive one in Spain, but never more so than now, following the breakdown of the movement's 14-month ceasefire and its recent return to violence.

Residents of Madrid in anti-ETA protests
Spaniards overwhelmingly want ETA to end its campaign of violence
Most Spanish film directors have previously skirted around the issue of ETA and its violent 30-year campaign for an independent homeland in which more than 800 people have been killed.

But the director of Yoyes, Helena Taberna, has tackled the issue full on and so far won glowing praise from many Spanish film critics.

One says that the human side of an ETA member has been tackled for the first time. Another that all those who value freedom should value Ms Taberna's film.

Ms Taberna herself says Yoyes is not a documentary but a fictional film based on true events. She calls it a contemporary tragedy - one woman's story based on her right to change and on the times she lived in.

Ceasefire hopes dashed

Ms Taberna is from the northern city of Pamplona in the region of Navarra, which neighbours the Basque region and has often been involved in the conflict.

She said at first it was difficult to get funding for her work, an Italian, French and Spanish co-production, but did eventually receive help from the Basque regional government.

The film was made during ETA's ceasefire when there was widespread optimism that a permanent end to the Basque conflict could be negotiated.

Those hopes were dashed with two bomb attacks, which left three people dead, earlier this year.

These events mean that many ordinary Spaniards will now view Yoyes very differently to how they might have done just a few months ago.

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See also:

07 Mar 00 | Europe
Basques urged to defy ETA
02 Dec 99 | Europe
ETA's bloody record
02 Dec 99 | Europe
ETA: Key events
06 Mar 00 | Europe
Seven injured in Basque bombing
27 Jan 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Fear and anger as ETA strikes
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