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Woody Allen returns to beloved Spain for summer filming

US director Woody Allen plans to film in Spain's Basque region this summer, the production company Mediapro and a Spanish source told AFP Tuesday.

Woody Allen returns to beloved Spain for summer filming
Woody Allen giving a lecture in Oviedo in 2005. Photo: AFP

“Mediapro will produce the new Woody Allen film,” a company spokesperson said, before adding: “The project is in an initial phase, we cannot therefore provide details.”

A well-informed source told AFP that Allen, 83, would work in San Sebastien, capital of the Spain's northwest Basque region.   

The Basque daily El Diaro Vasco reported meanwhile that an advance team had been spotted in the city. 

The new Spanish project continued the US film director's cinematic love affair with major European cities.   

In 2008, Allen released “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”, which was set in the Catalan capital as well as Oviedo, in Asturias, and was also financed by Mediapro.   

The company also produced Allen's 2011 film “Midnight in Paris”.   

READ ALSO Six reasons to love Woody Allen's favourite Spanish city

Other Allen films have been set in Rome and London.   

Earlier this month Allen filed a $68 million suit against Amazon for breach of contract, accusing the streaming giant of cancelling a film deal because of a “baseless” decades-old allegation that he sexually abused his adopted daughter.

The film in question “A Rainy Day in New York”.  has been completed but not released.

The allegations that Allen had sexually abused the then seven-year-old first emerged in the 1990s during the custody battle between Farrow and Allen but were shrugged off after Allen denied the claims.

But in 2014, Dylan repeated the allegations in an open letter published in the New York Times calling for actors to stop working with him. Again, she was largely ignored.

Now aged 32, Dylan reiterated the allegations in the #MeToo movement and Time's Up campaign – which grew out of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal, giving an emotional interview describing specific details of an alleged assault in the summer of 1992 in an attic in Connecticut.

Actors famous for roles in Allen’s films have now come out publicly to say they believe Dylan and would not work with Allen again, including Rebecca Hall, Colin Firth, Mira Sorvino, Natalie Portman and Reese Witherspoon.

Spanish Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem. who starred in Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona has jumped to the director's defence.  

“I don’t agree with the public lynching that he’s been receiving,” Bardem said in 2018.  “And if Woody Allen called me to work with him again I’d be there tomorrow morning. He’s a genius.” 

READ MORE: Women demand Woody Allen statue removed in Oviedo after sex assault allegations

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BILBAO

Has the Covid-19 pandemic killed Spain’s pintxos and tapas culture?

What impact has the ongoing pandemic and health crisis in Spain had on the culture of sharing tapas and pintxos? Esme Fox explores how crowding around bars laden with uncovered food is not the done thing anymore.

Has the Covid-19 pandemic killed Spain's pintxos and tapas culture?
Nicolas Vigier/Flickr

Spain is of course known throughout the world for its excellent and unique cuisine, and besides the paella, it’s the tapas and the pintxos that everyone raves about.

But how has Spain’s tapas culture changed since Covid-19? Can it adapt and change in order to survive?

Nowhere in Spain is this more evident right now than the Basque Country, where the culture is the Basque version of tapas – pintxos. Pintxos are small pieces of bread, topped with all types of ingredients, from fried peppers and anchovies to goat’s cheese and fig, all held together with a stick.  

Before the pandemic, pintxos bars in the likes of San Sebastián and Bilbao were groaning with mini bites all laid out in front of you. The idea was to jostle to the front of the bar between the crowds and grab a pintxo or two to put on your plate. At the end of the night, the bar person would simply count the number of sticks you have and you’d pay accordingly.

In this new world, however, the idea of crowding up with customers to a bar laden with uncovered food and taking them with your hands is simply unthinkable.

pintxos

Pintxos before the pandemic | Image by takedahrs from Pixabay

According to an article in El Pais, Covid-19 has completely changed the feel of the Basque taverns. People must now social distance and only a certain number are allowed up to the bar at one time.

Where sometimes bars used to have up to 200 different types of pintxos, now they might have around 40 types because there’s fewer people; residents and tourists alike.  

In San Sebastián, the city council has ordered that all pintxos must now be completely covered at the front and sides and the case must be translucent so that customers can see what they’re ordering. Any bar not complying with these measures can be fined.

This means of course that the number of plates of pintxos that can easily fit onto a bar has now been reduced because extra space is needed for the coverings and containers.

The main difference to the pintxo scene however is that customers are no longer allowed to touch the pintxos, meaning that a large part of pintxo culture is missing. Now customers just point to what they want and are served by the bar person, much like in many bars across the world. Will this destroy the Basque Country’s unique pintxo culture?

Journalist Marti Buckley who lives in the Basque Country said: “Coronavirus is probably the worst type of pandemic possible when it comes the pintxo bar way of eating. Food at a sneeze's length, where it sits all day in front of hundreds of people, smashed in a bar like sardines, elbow to elbow. Glass cases, masks, and limited entry has really changed the experience. However, most measures I am seeing appear to be temporary, so if this ever ends I hope the bars will go back to how they were”. 

olive pintxos

Stuffed olive pintxos | Image by elcodigodebarras from Pixabay

The Basque Country is striving for a fast recovery however, and many visitors to the region have told The Local that the pintxos bars almost felt back to normal.

Travel writer James Taylor who went to San Sebastián post lockdown said: “I didn’t notice much had changed. The main difference was that you couldn’t grab the pintxos yourself. Everything was covered and you had to pay straight away”. This may change the way that people used to graze on pintxos, going up for more when they felt like it, but it doesn’t seem to have killed the culture completely.

Bilbao has even run its first pintxo competition since the Covid-19 outbreak. Aitor Olazabalaga from Bar Fermín who participated in the competition told local Basque news website Deia: “It’s important that we encourage consumption of pintxos again. We had a bit of a shake, but we must all come together to make sure that life in the Old Town recovers”.

In other parts of Spain such as Barcelona for example, tapas culture doesn’t seem to have changed too much. People do seem to be going out in smaller groups and eat out less often though. Friends are still sharing plates of Padrón peppers and ham croquetas, but are being more careful. Double dipping brava sauce with your potato for example is definitely a big no no.

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