About the Film

When life repeats itself, we’ll do anything to change our destiny. But when life passes by on the backs of woolly sheep, when can the heart find rest? As a young man, Joaquin herds sheep in the treacherous hills of Idaho, miles away from his home in the Basque Country. During the day he faces endless miles under a relentless sun. At night, wolves attack and bears lurk in the woods. Life passes him by, and his youth is lost to the American hills.

As a new sun rises, Joaquin leaves herding and returns to the Basque Country. Happy at last, he starts a family, content to know that his children will have a better life. But as his business fails, Joaquin is left with no other option but to return to Idaho and herd sheep once again. To support his growing family, he must leave them all behind.

Now, twenty years later, Joaquin is an old man and his own son has come to join him in Idaho. Young, naïve, and all too similar to Joaquin, Aitor hopes to reconnect with the father he barely knew. Years of separation have never felt greater when father and son come together under the Idaho sky. Watching his son follow in footsteps he never hoped to take himself, Joaquin grows angry and resigned at his failure as a father. For Aitor, his hopes to connect with the father he admired fade away. Together at last, father and son must battle the mountains, the isolation, and each other.

Zuretzako tells the story of those who came before us and the gratitude they deserve. The cycles we fall into and the measures we’ll take to break free. Across mountains and canyons, it is a chance to reflect on the strength of love and family. Filmed entirely in Euskera, the Basque language, and shot on location in Idaho with working sheep flocks, Zuretzako is the first American-produced Basque-language film and first narrative account of shepherds in the American West. It is a unique look into the lives of the men and families who helped shape Basque and American life in the twentieth century.

Winner of the prestigious Princess Grace Undergraduate Film Scholarship and Cary Grant Award, writer and director Javi Zubizarreta tells the story of his grandfather in this intimate family drama. A true family affair, director Zubizarreta enlisted his family members to act out their own personal history. Zubizarreta’s father – Joaquin’s son – plays Joaquin as an older man. Zubizarreta’s brother – Joaquin’s grandson – plays Joaquin as a young man as well as Aitor. Zubizarreta’s mother, oldest brother, grandparents, and close family friends fill out the cast. The film and the production behind it are truly stories of a family and a community coming together to better understand their past, present and future. A never-before-seen look into the lives of Basque shepherds, its beauty and grace will leave you breathless.