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Sagarra Jo (Smash the apple)

When Madonna sings in basque

About the project

Sagarra Jo is a full-length documentary that tells the story of the traditional 3-piece Bask trio, Kalakan, who toured with the world-wide star Madonna. It questions the place of minority expression inside an equalizing mass culture. What is Madonna looking for in these ancestral cultures? A simple aesthetic or a truely meaningful process ?
History and actual steps of the project
  • August 2012 : One week video shoot during Madonna’s tour with Kalakan betwin Nice (FR) and Zurich (CH). Because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we decided to rush there to film.
  • Winter 2012 : Beginning of questioning the main reflections of the documentary. Research and documented interviews.
  • 2013 : Writing of the project. First draft and scenario writing.
  • Mach 2014 : Grant application. Response in June. 

What we still have to do :

  • Finish the definitive writing (translations...)
  • Finish researching (interviews, beneficiary research, copyright negotiations)
  • French TV channel research and negotiations
  • Shooting (more that 80% of the documentary) : the fiction that structures the documentary, lots of interviews, and musical clips with Kalakan. Have a look at the full artistic file for more details (in French) : full artistic file (FR)

Train of thought

Here is a report we made in order to explain the reasons for this movie, its goals and its train of thought :

You can download the printable full-lengh artistic pdf file (in French) :

Full artistic file [FR]

Movie approach

​A scenario inspired by the traditional manufacturing of Cider and by the journey of self discovery

Sagarra Jo : Smash the apple

When Kalakan joined the team of the MDNA tour to work hand in hand with Madonna, they were asked to adapt their musical universe to the world-wide hit “Open Your Heart”. They mixed it with the ancestral Bask song “Sagarra Jo” (Smash the Apple). They blended the song with ancestral percussions and vocal arrangements that clashed with the radio standards. This song became the musical highlight of the tour (see Swiss and German press).

The song “Sagarra Jo” tells the story of a bird standing on the branch of an appletree, an apple, an apple that has to be smashed, smashed, smashed. It is certain that this speaks about one of the fabrication steps of making cider, apple grinding, which was done using long clubs.

For 150 years, the cider fabrication was a major industrial activity. The cider wasn’t just used as a drink, but also as an ingredient in the Bask sailors’ monopoly, whale oil. Full of vitamins, the cider helped sailors to fight against scurvy.

Cider will be be used in this movie as a metaphor of the journey. The man travels to his radiant future, protected from his losing his background by a beverage that contains his cultural heritage and his roots. It represents a type humanity that knows where it's going, because it knows where it came from.

The choice to make a parrallel between the traditional fabrication of cider and the stages of reflection allows us to easily structure the film, as far as, group interviews, concert footage, clips and pieces of information according to the logic of the  research: to document, dissect, analyze, let stand, oppose, and then synthesize.

Structure :

  1. The Tree of Knowledge

  2. The Harvest

  3. Grinding. Sagarra Jo Motherfuckers !

  4. Maceration

  5. Assembling

  6. Pressing

  7. Casking and drunkeness

  8. The Big Journey

(...) Full-length artistic file (FR)

A parallel micro-fiction : aesthetic touch and narrative elements to structure the movie

As the scenario is inspired by the steps of the Cider’s fabrication, every chapter will be intrduced by fictional scenes staring a young blonde-haired lady. During her journey of self discovery, she will make her own cider and will set out on a quest for her future, symbolized by a boat sailing away. We will watch her picking the apples, grinding them, macerating them, putting them together, pressuring them and casking them before she goes away.

This image makes sense beacuse it’s claimed by Kalakan themselves : Once the tour was over, they decided not to keep on working in the music mass-industry. They explain themselves by making a comparison between music and cheese or cider : they prefer homemade cheese to industrial cheese (Ex.: Babybel). They see themselves as artisans of tasteful music, despite its roughness and irregularity.

(...) Full-length artistic file (FR)

What are the funds for?

How the money is going to be used :

  1. To pay a huge part of production costs:
    travelling for interviews, renting equipement (the camera and lights…), the technicians salary and a small part of director’s salary.
  2. Justify one part of the operation by self-financing at least 50%, required to get grants.

As a result, if this project obtains grants in addition to crowdfunding, we will be able to buy copyrights for archive images that we need, and we will be able to pay the directors.

If this project doesn’t get grants, the movie will still be made, but without archive images and directors won’t be paid.

For more details about budget click here.

About the project owner

Iban Rusiñol

Born in Navarre, my mother from Lyon and my Catalanese father from Pamplona, I quickly needed to explain why i was speaking all these different mother tongues. First why I was speaking French in Spain (during a time when that didn’t make any sense), then speaking Spanish in France, and finally speaking Bask in the world.

I lived for several years of my life engulfed in Bask culture : I studied  Bask until college, and I travelled the world from Canada to Middle-East singing in Bask. Everywhere, in the name of modernity, there was always the same question : why bother using a dying language? So many people asked me this question that I ended up asking it to myself.

Then this demoralizing question gained ground : why desperately attempt to fight for political agendas to preserve French culture? Why fight against market laws ? Why try to compete with soccer, mass shows, Live Nation, music out of tv shows ? When in any case the audience is supposed to know what it wants. What’s the point of living one’s own culture ?

Living entirely one’s “own” culture if it is a “minority” culture is often seen as communitarianism. But you can easily observe that when a community feels rootless, empty and diluted into the mass, the communitarianism can become radical, and turn into a religious “identity” or any other excluding or self-excluding affiliation.

This is the analysis of the french-libenese writer, Amin Maalouf, in his book “the murderer identities”, and that is the analysis i want to develope in this movie.

In this way, the role of any good story is to touch people, to illustrate what can’t be spoken, because nothing is more diffficult than explaining feelings with words without being pompous and difficult to digest. With this story I want to share this whole set of feelings : explain “what’s the point ?” A feeling which may be inside everyone, and share my hope through culture that we should not just preserve, but fully live. This cultural clash between musical mass-industry, i.e. Madonna’s world, and “hand-crafted” music, Kalakan’s world, is the perfect occasion to explain this stake.  

Nicolas Novion

I didn’t grow up speaking Bask, or even in the Bask Country. I was born in Saint Jean de Luz but I grew up abroad in an international and multi-cultural environment. Let’s just say my Bask roots were more an anecdote rather than a claim. In this context I never felt like being somebody else other than a French person living abroad. When I came back to France, I started to question myself without dealing with it in depth. Considering myself as a world citizen, I continued on and observed what was around me, trying to integrate myself.

It’s when we gathered the stories of the three Basks during Madonna’s tour it was then that I opened again this internal debate. The movie Sagarra Jo becomes more than just a documentary relating the lightning rise of a traditional music band; it will be a way to define my own identity with the help of all the themes and reflections it approches.


Iban Rusiñol and Nicolas Novion are also : Baxter And Rojos United Films




Parlers d’ici / Hemen

Broadcasted on TVPI channel and Kanaldude.tv


A movie/live-performance mixing dance and fiction.


Baxter & Rojos United produced video-clips for bands like Kalakan, the Sparteens, Don’t Save the Queen, Hinka, Heeri Urrats 2013, Xutik, Xarnege, Amaia Riouspeyrous, etc.

The video-clip “Bi Doberman Beltz” was selected at Bilbao’s Caostica festival in 2012.


Short film “BOST LITRO”

Selected at Ist “Euskaraz bizi nahi dut” festival and international Puteaux’s short film festival “FEST’ival”

Documentary : ENSEMBLE

Production of the documentary in France and Spain.

Director : Ana Sanchez.

Documentary / report : SAGARRA BILDU

17 minutes lengh documentary/report for web-tv www.kanaldude.tv


  • Qui produit le documentaire ?

  • Qu'est-ce donc Baxter And Rojos United ?

    Baxter & Rojos United est une association de production audiovisuelle créé en 2011 à l’initiative d’un groupe de professionnels de l’audiovisuel et du spectacle vivant désirant mettre en commun leurs ressources et leurs expériences. Ainsi, la structure démarre son activité en produisant des vidéo-clips.

    Très vite l’association s’agrandit avec l’arrivée de nouveaux membres, professionnels et bénévoles, partageant la même volonté de développer l’audiovisuel dans la région et devient un espace de partage et de formation, proposant à ses membres un accompagnement matériel et humain tout au long de la réalisation de leurs projets.

    Amenée à réaliser différentes prestation audiovisuelles allant de la vidéo institutionnelle au teaser de spectacle en passant par le vidéo clip, la fiction ou le documentaire, l’association Baxter & Rojos United a acquis une solide expérience dans la gestion de projets.

    2013 marque une étape importante pour Baxter & Rojos United qui prend en charge la production d’un programme hebdomadaire en langue basque pour la chaîne de télévision TVPI. La même année elle produit Lloba, une fiction musicale pour un budget de 20.300€. 

    Last updated: 6 years, 7 months ago

  • Très très bien... mais quelle expérience avez-vous dans ce genre de projet ?



    Parlers d’ici / Hemen
    Baxter & Rojos United produit depuis maintenant un an “Hemen”, une série de reportages hebdomadaires en langue basque diffusée tous les week-end sur la chaîne de télévision TVPI dans l’émission «Parlers d’ici», à partir du mois d’avril sur Kanaldude.tv.


    Lloba, un film-concert alliant musique, danse et fiction
    En partenariat avec le collectif Moï Moï, Baxter & Rojos United remporte en 2013 l’appel à projet Hogeita lancé par l’Institut Culturel Basque en partenariat avec plusieurs salles de musiques amplifiées d’Aquitaine et d’Euskadi (Atabal-Biarritz, Donostia Kultura-Sansebastian, Le Rocher de Palmer-Cenon, Le Florida-Agen). Budget du projet : 20 300 euros.

    Baxter & Rojos United a pris en charge la production de la partie audiovisuelle du projet, une fiction de 35 minutes. Le tournage s’est effectué en trois jours et a rassemblé plus de  50 personnes.

    Euskal kantuen gaua 2012, émission de noël sur ETB1
    Production musicale et scénographique d’une partie de l’émission de Noël.


    Depuis sa création, Baxter & Rojos United produit régulièrement des vidéos-clip et des teasers pour différents groupes de musique tels que Kalakan (musique traditionnelle), The Spar-teens (concept YéYé), Don’t Save the Queen (rock), Hinka (musique traditionnelle), Herri Urrats 2013 avec le groupe Xutik (campagne promotionnelle), Xarnege (musique traditionnelle), Amaia Riouspeyrous (pop) entre autres. 

    Le clip “Bi doberman beltz” avait été sélectionné pour la 10ème édition du festival Caostica de Bilbao en 2012.

    L’association intervient aussi très souvent dans la production  de teasers de promotion de musique, de spectacle et d’événements culturels.


    A l’origine de la création de l’association Baxter & Rojos United, il y a une volonté commune de développer dans de bonnes conditions (matériels, humaines, financières) des projets de fictions (courts métrages ou longs métrages) ainsi que des projets de documentaires. 

    Court-métrage : BOST LITRO
    Un premier court métrage « bost litro » est produit en 2011, tourné en langue basque et sélectionné au Ier festival “Euskaraz bizi nahi dut” et le FEST’ival international du court-métrage de genre FEST’ à Puteaux.

    Documentaire : ENSEMBLE
    Début 2012 l’association est sollicité pour prendre en charge  une partie de la production en France et en Espagne pour le tournage du documentaire “Ensemble” produit par CECOP-CICOPA Europe (Belgique) et réalisé par Ana Sanchez de la coopérative audiovisuelle andalouse M30M (Màlaga).

    Reportage-documentaire : SAGARRA BILDU
    Baxter & Rojos United a produit un documentaire-reportage (17minutes) pour la Web TV www.kanaldude.tv.

    Last updated: 6 years, 7 months ago