¡FIESTA! is a new form of story-telling that blends writing with interactive elements like maps, infographics, photography and video clips to create an immersive environment. Imagine the best of new journalistic traditions as pioneered by the New York Times and the Washington Post applied to a documentary project. Through this ground-breaking technique we will tell the whole story of the Fiesta de San Fermín.
Thousands of people dressed in red and white, fill the cobblestone streets of Pamplona, Spain every year to celebrate and honor the patron of Navarra, San Fermín. The nine day festival is a celebration of traditional events like the running of the bulls, afternoon bullfights, cultural exhibitions and of course endless kalimotxos (red wine and cola). It is 204 hours of non-stop partying.
For everyone, fiesta is one of the greatest parties in the world, but for the locals it’s also about tradition, culture and religion. Whole families, including abuelos and niños in strollers, spend their days enjoying the festivities. Older children can be seen practicing their bull-running skills as they are chased down the street by friends pushing plastic bull heads on wheels.
Although many cities in Spain have their own running of the bulls (over a thousand per year), Pamplona earned its international popularity after Ernest Hemingway published his novel, The Sun Also Rises, in 1926. The city of Pamplona had already been hosting this party for hundreds of years and it was the longest—at eight days—of any fiesta in Spain, but after the publication of the novel, the city and world would never look at the Fiesta de San Fermin the same way again.
Books have been written, articles published and films have been made about sanfermines but none have tried to tell the whole story of Fiesta. These accounts usually focus on one part of Fiesta—the bull run, bull fighting, parties, etc.—others use fiesta as the backdrop to a larger story but most often the account is a personal story of one person’s experience—a type of travelogue.
Our goal is to be as comprehensive as possible in telling the story of this grand event. We want to make a fluid documentation that can be updated at intervals to remain relevant to the current state of the fiesta. We are hoping to tell the story from the local perspective as well as from the tourist perspective.
The Experience of the Local—In this section we will follow a local Spanish runner, Juan Pedro Lecuona, who has been running with the bulls since he was a teenager. We will watch him as he mentors the next generation of runners and gets himself prepared for the 2017 Fiesta.
The Experience of the Foreigner—Here we will follow American runner Bill Hillmann as he works to rekindle the magic of his past years experiences at the Fiesta. He will be learning more about the run from the local runners he has befriended over the past decade of running.
The Experience of the Bull—We will follow a bull and his brothers as they leave their idyllic life on the ranch to take part in the run and eventually the bullfight that afternoon. We will talk to the owners of the ganaderías (bull ranches) that keep the tradition of the toro bravo alive. A tradition that is currently debated by the anti-bullfighting groups.
The Experience of Pamplona—What does Fiesta mean to this city of 200,000 situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees? Here we will talk to city officials and workers to get an understanding of how the city deals with the avalanche of visitors. We will also look at all the local traditions and how many of them got their start.
A team of six journalists will spend a month and a half gathering interviews, photos and videos to produce this immersive experience. This approach will lead to an accounting of sanfermines that is more complete and inclusive than anything that has been done before. Ideally we will create an experience that everyone—from first-timer to the seasoned veteran—will find of valuable in their enjoyment of Fiesta.