The JA! moves to La Filarmónica with «humor and resistance»


A Noah’s Ark, symbol of resistance, stars in the poster. Asier Sanz

«Humor and resistance. That is the unofficial motto of this edition of Ja! », Says the writer Juan Bas, director of the International Festival of Literature and Art with Humor, to be held from October 2 to 11. In the poster, the work of Asier Sanz, the resistance is reflected in a Noah’s ark in which the participants in the Bilbao event travel, which in this pandemic year will only have a foreign guest, the British novelist John Lanchester, “who has passed the coronavirus.”

The great novelty, forced by the closure of the BBK room until 2021, is the transfer of the event to the headquarters of the Philharmonic Society, which will host talks, interviews and screenings, all free admission. Built in 1904 by Fidel Iturria and recently renovated, the central auditorium of Marqués del Puerto has 900 seats. “Even if there was a 60% capacity limit, 540 people would enter, one hundred more than in the BBK room”, indicates Bas, who assures that he, his team and the sponsors did not consider “at any time” the suspension of a festival that is already a benchmark for humor. “If, unfortunately, it were not possible to celebrate it, we would do it telepathically,” warns the Bilbao novelist.

Ha! It has counted since 2010, when the poster was drawn by the late Forges, with illustrious guests such as Tom Sharpe, Francisco Ibáñez, John Cleese, Bernardo Atxaga and Martin Amis, among others. This year it has been more difficult to shape the program, but not as much as its director feared. “I thought it was going to be more arduous. But no. People have promised to come. And although there have been some yeses that have later been noes, the festival is going to be very good ».

“If unfortunately it were not possible to celebrate it, we would do it telepathically”, warns Juan Bas

The first names

The organization announced yesterday, “to make it clear that the festival is going to be held physically”, which have been confirmed by John Lanchester, Marta Sanz and Pantomima Full, although the program will not be released in detail until September. The visit of Lanchester, author of ‘Capital’, will coincide with the arrival in Spanish bookstores of ‘El muro’, “A kind of modern fable that explores fear of the different, fear of the future and fear of oneself”.

Marta Sanz will review a career in Bilbao marked by newspaper articles, essays, poetry books and novels. The last, ‘Little Red Women’, closes the trilogy of the curator Arturo Zarco and “part of the Civil War to talk about how badly settled accounts in the past affect the present.”

Pantomime Full is, for its part, a project of Alberto Casado and Rober Bodegas, which they met on the TV show ‘I know what you did’ (The Sixth) and now they succeed on social networks with videos of a humor based on everyday life.

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