Marcos Nine.- J.E.D.N, referential figure in a cinematography scene without icons

José Ernesto Díaz Noriega

Marcos Nine, author and director of the following works: J.E.D.N José Ernesto Díaz Noriega and Pensando en Soledad, writes for (S8) a personal reflection about the figure of the father of the amateur cinema in Galicia.


JEDN: Referential figure in a cinematography scene without icons

It is impossible for me to talk about José Ernesto Díaz-Noriega from a point of view that is not strictly personal and subjective. In my case, his figure goes beyond the brilliance of his films. He is, above other considerations, the first referential figure.
If there is something that Galicia’s culture stands out for, it is thanks to its richness; above all if we consider it in proportion to its territory. However, this richness that turns out more than obvious when it comes, for instance, to a secular literary tradition, it is considerably diminished when we talk about cinema.
The official version says it is impossible the presence of production companies for the cinema to exist; companies that invest capital from the country to produce films, giving birth to cinematography of its own. This version it is widespread to the point that usually it is wrongly considered Cine Galicia–the event of 1989 where Continental, Urxa and Sempre Xonxa were opened– as the birth of the Galician cinema. The truth is that yes, we can recognize that this year determines the origin of a professional production given rise to a small industry in the following decades, but any type of art or cultural activity (cinema is still a cultural activity although it is so industrialized); any cinematography from any country of the world exists without authors. And JEDN is one of these authors.
With a cinematographic career truncated by the Civil War when he had already shot two shorts: Las ninfas de la charca and El Viejo parque del Oeste, his arrival to A Coruña at the end of the 50ies entailed the resurgence of JEDN as a filmmaker.
In spite of being in contact with both the photographic societies of the époque and the amateur cinematographic environment, his figure is completely different to the members of these collectives. In most of the cases, the amateur cinema was related to people who got to the cinema scene by means of photography and who were engaged in filming and sharing all kind of movies. The majority of them became genuine masters of the technique. Nonetheless, the figure of JEDN is completely different, besides being a connoisseur of the photographic technique, he is a narrator and he did not simply filmed but shot movies.

JEDN’s cinema, a substandard kind of cinema, (he shot on all type of formats from 8mm to 16mm) is hard to define. It is clear that he does humor films, and beyond this characteristic that practically unifies his complete work, the other common element that systematically appears on his films are the “events” as the story line. It is strange that JDEN writes elaborated plots except in very specific cases like his well-known film El cine amateur (1965); it is a musical work where it is explained how to be an amateur filmmaker. Thanks to this film he won the first prize of the Amateur Cinema Festival of Cannes. But besides cases like this, in the vast majority of his films JEDN uses a real event, a filming event, to introduce fiction sequences and alter the original meaning of the event, turning it in an ironic or satirical one. This situation takes place in the films he shot at the wedding of his children, El anillo and Jet Society (1982) where he tells both his daughter’s wedding and Julio Iglesias’ father kidnap by ETA. It can also be seeing in Os Suevos (1974) where he transforms the 25th anniversary of a couple’s wedding into a satire about marriage. Also in El Festival and in Sever Odnum where he uses A Coruña’s Humor Film Festival to laugh about himself and the Film Festival world. And, of course, in Al-Nasr Altair (1969), his most transgressor film, in which he depicts a tribute to a Francoist first lieutenant and introduces advertising phrases into the audience’ lips present at the tribute.
Author of a wide number of films where he mixes humor, false voicing, re-editing of his own movies, handcrafted tricks, collages, found footage, etc, JEDN goes beyond the figure of an amateur filmmaker to become a filmmaker in every sense of the word, or a cinesista as he liked to call himself.
Retrieving his figure is an obligation, not only because of the originality, vitality and love towards the cinema shown in all his films, but as well because José Ernesto Diaz Noriega is a referential figure, maybe even the first one or one of the few who exist in a cinematographic sphere with scantly tradition, so poor and extremely limited like the Galician cinematography.

-Marcos Nine-