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 a Basque boardinghouse called 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.
Sponsored by the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund at Amherst College, with additional support from the Amherst College Spanish, European Studies and Film and Media Studies Departments. The Spanish Film Club series was made possible with the support of Pragda and the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C., Spain-USA Foundation.