We will celebrate the 14th edition from 27 September to 8 October in Bilbao. The festival will be held in the same main venues as the previous edition: Sala BBK on Gran Vía, a staple venue for Ja! since its inception in 2010, is to host the first week of the programme. The second part will take place in the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) Auditorium in the Bizkaia Aretoa building on Avenida Abandoibarra.

Prior to the festival, we will be making a new venture in Naukas Bilbao, a science, scepticism and humour festival, joining forces with them in an event on neuromagic, yet to be determined.

As usual, this year’s programme for Ja! 2023 will feature prominent national and international authors and a variety of topics related in one way or another to humour. The entire programme will not be released until mid-September, but we can already reveal some of the main protagonists and themes.

Ja! Festival cartel 2023

Javier Jaén’s magic and poster

Magic will be the main theme of the next edition. Magic is seen in the relationship between literature and other arts and humour; magic is understood as that which occurs in a supernatural, inexplicable or unpredictable fashion and is closely linked to the power of the imagination and its reflection in the arts.

Imagination, such as humour, is an essential part of human nature, of how we understand and represent the world figuratively and poetically. One of the intentions of this 14th Ja! is to vindicate it in this magical and prodigious dimension.

Just like the previous year’s, the poster for this 2023 edition is the work of the graphic artist Javier Jaén. Starring a stylised Black and White eclipse of the Moon, which is also an eye and has a trompe l’oeil effect, suggests the magical journey that the festival invites the public to embark on.

The Magician Méliès

As an example, a representative event of this magical dimension within the programme will be entitled ‘The Magician Méliès’.

George Méliès (1861-1938) was an illusionist, filmmaker and brilliant pioneer of the fantasy genre adapted to screens. He created an exuberant world of dreamlike images and fantastic actions filmed in imaginative and baroque settings. In 1902 he produced ‘The Trip to the Moon’, considered his masterpiece. One of the most iconic images in cinema history is the moon depicted with a human face, receiving the howitzer that serves as a spacecraft in one of the eyes. The Moon-eye that inspired Javier Jaén’s poster.

The event will feature the screening of a curated selection of short films and sequences from his filmography, commented on by two Méliès freaks: the comedian -and organiser of the fantastic film festival Sombra- Raquel Sastre and the magician Imanol Ituiño -also a disseminator of the history of magic and a documentary maker-, punctuated with some notes on the novel life of the filmmaker.

In the style of classic silent film sessions, the sequences will be screened accompanied by piano music, performed and composed for the event by the multi-talented Lola Barroso, who, in addition to being a pianist, works at the publishing house Nórdicalibros and is a fan of practical magic. The event will be presented by Juan Bas.