In the 8th century, Christianity swept over the hills and valleys of the Basque Country, replacing age-old pagan beliefs. The newly christened Lord Eneko rules over the land, but when an army of fiery Franks stands at his gates, he does not turn to the Christian God – who tends not to answer – but invokes the pagan forest Goddess Mari, who agrees to smash the invading foreign forces in exchange for his life. He accepts. Thus it was done. The Franks were defeated, smashed by rocks falling from the sky, and Eneko died on the battlefield. Fifteen years later. His son Eneko Jr. returns to his birthplace after being raised in the Roman-Catholic faith. In order to reclaim the throne from the usurpers that are now in charge, Eneko will have to retrieve his father’s body from Mari, who buried him in her cave. The only one who can show him the way is one of Mari’s last disciples, a young woman called Irati. Eneko may be Lord of the Vale, but Irati is the Vale. Its ancient mystic powers flow through her veins. And she’s going to introduce him to a world full of magical and deadly creatures that his faith tries to write off as make-believe… Paul Urkijo Alijo already veni, vidi, vici at the BIFFF in 2018 with ERREMENTARI, but his second feature is of a different scope altogether. He takes the Basque myths of his childhood and spins them into an epic full of otherworldly adventure and breath-taking visuals. Tolkien comes to mind of course, but the spectacular sequence in Mari’s cave, filmed in surreal blood-red tones, also reminded us of Mario Bava’s HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD. These images will haunt us forever, indeed!

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