16 December, 2008

Bertolucci, from Brazil

Bernardo Bertolucci’s connection to Brazil and relationship with Brazilian artist fellows is certainly one of the tastiest attractions of “Estratégia do Sonho – O Primeiro Cinema de Bertolucci” (The strategy of dream – Bertolucci’s first cinema, in English) – an exhibition of the Italian director’s work in Brazil.

His words on Glauber Rocha – since the “Cinema Novo” era, the most famous Brazilian moviemaker abroad – are the introduction to a video where the Italian master talks about Brazilian friends and apologizes for not coming to the exhibition’s opening. Warm and sweet, the video is run before every section of Bertolucci’s films – in this case, the films of his so called “first phase”, started with “La commare seca”, from 1962, when he was 21 years old and with Pasolini’s screenplay, up to “La luna”, from 1979. On the total, eight dramatic features, one documentary, one short documentary and an episode of “Amore e rabbia”.

“The strategy of dream” first happened in Rio de Janeiro and then travelled to Sao Paulo, thanks to CCBB’s (Bank of Brazil’s cultural center) organization and Joel Pizzini’s curatorship. According to Pizzini, “the fruition of Bertolucci’s emblematic films in the country is very poor, being only possible by cable TV, ‘cineclubs’, rare DVDs or informal copies”.

Besides presenting the first Bertolucci to Brazilians and, of course, paying an homage to him, the event aims to create a dialogue between Italian and Brazilian moviemakers. Starting with a comparison between masters: “Like Glauber, Bertolucci has always disturbed the right and the same left with libertarian movies”, says the curator. The difference between them would be that Glauber “disappeared before great independent authors got caught by the big studios”.

See more on “The strategy of dream”, open until the 21st of December in Sao Paulo, on the exhibition’s website.

28 November, 2008

European movie in Bolivia

The European cinema travels a lot around the world, but, regarding South America, one could say its presence is permanent in film festivals and special movie library programs. Sometimes not enough talked about, but certainly most of the time gathering an important public.

For those who are in Bolivia during these days – Bolivian or not –, the tip to follow is the 9th edition of the European Film Festival, which started on the 13th of November in La Paz and will be ended on the 7th of December in Sucre. In the total, four cities (La Paz, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Sucre) were selected to host 22 movies from 9 European countries.

The theme this year is cultural diversity, and the titles selected follow the idea of Europe as a “single flight of many bees”, in the words of the Spanish writer Ortega y Gasset about the old continent. Comedies, social and psychological dramas, thrillers, adventures and animations from Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Holand, Italy and Switzerland will thus be available for Bolivians.

The European Film Festival is organized by the European Union, with collaboration of all embassies involved. For those interested, more information can be found here.

04 November, 2008

How does an European see Latin America?

Well, usually just like “Dr. Alemán”, a German movie shot in Colombia tries to picture: a place drowned in violence, but full of nice gentle people in difficulties. And that’s exactly what its creator, the German filmmaker Tom Schreiber, wanted to achieve, as he said in an interview for (in Spanish): “I never wanted to say ‘this is Colombia’. My idea was to show how a European sees a Latin country, in this case Colombia”. In this case, well done.

“Dr. Alemán” tells the story of a young and inexperienced Medicine student in Frankfurt who lives a boring live and therefore wants to give his existence a higher meaning. As a result, he goes to Cali and chooses a hospital in Siloé – one of the most poor and dangerous neighborhoods in the Colombian city – and gets there helped by an exchange program to get to know how life is beyond his walls and save lives.

So, this main character called Marc (played by the German actor August Diehl) finds what he had been looking for, but a little worse than first imagined. There is not one day in this fiction’s life in which a person doesn’t show up at the hospital covered in blood and almost dying. Guns and drugs are everywhere, just like good people are too. For example, Marc falls in love with Wanda, a local girl who takes care of her brothers (because their parents have been murdered) and is able to believe that “people didn’t forget what is to be a human being”. Influenced by love and his good character (maybe also a little bit of faith), Dr. German tries very hard to keep believing that violence has not won the war and actually is successful in not losing his hope, once he develops deep relationships with valuable people.

Schreiber, the director, was born in Cologne and had the idea for this project after receiving a letter from a friend who was working in Cali. According to him, this, which is his second movie, has caused commotion in some international festivals because “many people have identified their own reactions getting to Latin America”.

The reaction in Colombia, where the movie has not been released yet, is thus not known. But in Germany, where it was launched on the 14th of August, certainly the reaction could be resumed in one self-expression (although not mentioned by the director, like he said): “I’d better stay away from Colombia”.

See it by your own eyes in the trailer:

03 October, 2008

Germany: finally a guest honor at Colombia’s main film festival

In 24 years of existence, the Bogotá International Film Festival, in Colombia, had never had Germany as its honor guest. But that has been corrected this year, for the 25th edition of the event, where Germany appears in many of its 20 different sections, and is also represented by Bogocine’s (as the festival is also called) poster, created by the German designer Uwe Loesch (see picture).

Around 52 German movies, including classics as Metropolis (1927), from Fritz Lang, and “hits” such as The lives of others (Das Leben der Anderen, 2006) – the winner of last year’s international Oscar – and The edukators (Die Fetten Jarhre sind vorbei, 2004) – are part of the program, which was curated by Klaus Eder, general secretary of FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique), the international organization that gathers journalists and movie critics from 46 countries, founded in 1930.

The theme determined by Eder for the main German exhibition was, specifically, the image of the tropics inside the German cinema. Werner Herzog’s Aguirre der Zorn Gottes (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982), as well as Detlef Sierk’s La Habanera (1937) and Murnau’s Tabu (1931) are some of the titles chosen according to his criteria. Nevertheless, Germany is also represented in the children’s, shorts and documentaries exhibitions.

The 25th edition of Bogota International Film Festival, probably the most important film festival in Colombia, runs from the 1st until the 9th of October. Sponsored by local companies and national organizations, such as the Ministry of Culture and Bogotá’s City Hall, the event’s organization had the collaboration from Goethe Institut, present in Colombia for over 50 years now.

Get to know more about the program on Bogocine’s website.

14 September, 2008

French Film Festival, all the way through Colombia

Hiroshima, mon amour, inside the festival's homage to Alain Resnais.

A very busy agenda is what the organizers of the 7th French Film Festival (12th September – 31th October) promise for the Colombian public that is interested in European cinema in 12 cities of the country.

Organized and sponsored by the local Embassy of France in partnership with Alliance Française, the event that started seven years ago with a simple retrospective of “old” French movies, this year offers recent titles, a special homage to Alain Renais, an exhibition of African movies, documentaries from Europe, Asia and Africa and, better yet, a workshop with French screenplay experts that will work with Colombian moviemakers.

Cultural supervisor of the French Embassy and director of the festival Annouchka de Andrade talked with “Eye on South America” to give us an idea of what’s happening in this edition.

Take a look!

Which motivations did you have to create a French film festival in Colombia?

We see the festival as an opportunity for the Colombian public to see a different kind of cinema, which is not always shown in commercial theaters here. Besides, we wanted to gather in an event all the films we could, trying to offer people good French movies. For three years now, we included homage to a French director and tried to create programs as complete as possible.

How do you select the titles?

Besides organizing cultural activities related to French cinema here in Colombia, I also work as a collaborator for French festivals that want to include Colombian movies in their programs. Having those contacts, I get to bring the best French movies that compete in those festivals to our event here. The idea is not only to bring the titles, but also to try distribution deals, whenever it is possible, between the films and Colombian independent distributors. Nevertheless, sometimes I have problems with rights and even with subtitles. So, not all the movies I want to bring can actually come.

Do you think that the French cinema is well represented in Colombia?

I think there are still not many French films being exhibited here, either commercially or not commercially. But it is growing every year.

Are there any special activities related to the French festival this year?

This year no director we wanted to bring to the festival could actually come. But we are bringing two French experts in screenplay to work with Colombian moviemakers and try to help them sell their stories after participating on workshops that were specially organized with this goal.

Where does the money for the festival come from?

The local French Embassy pays it all. But we work in collaboration with Alliance Française and also with the Culture Ministry here in Colombia.

I understand Alliance Française has a permanent program of French movies in its branches through Colombia. Is it so?

That is true. I permanently send them DVDs. And as for the festival, Alliance Française is the channel we have to program the films not only in the main Colombian cities, which are Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, but in 12 cities, achieving a greater public, which is essential to us.

:: For the complete program and activities of the 7th French Film Festival in Colombia, take a look at their website.

22 August, 2008

Wim Wenders in Brazil

Wim Wenders in Porto Alegre, south of Brazil

Brazil is no longer a “state of spirit” for the German film director Wim Wenders, 62, as he said himself later this week, during his visit to the country, which lasts until today.

But that’s not really because he landed in Porto Alegre, in the south, and in Salvador, in the northeast, for a seminar organized by the Brazilian cultural project “Fronteiras Braskem do Pensamento”, and got to see Brazil with his own eyes. Only with Glauber Rocha (1939-1981) and the eyes of his camera the country turned to Wenders from “a metaphoric country” to a real one.

During his conversations in the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, in Porto Alegre, for 1.300 people, Wenders defended a kind of cinema “with a strong local belonging feeling”, the way Glauber, the leader of the Brazilian movement called “Cinema Novo”, did – as well as the Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963), another influence to Wender’s work. “This international kind of anonymous movie production today bores me to death”, said the creator of Paris, Texas and Buena Vista Social Club.

On the other hand of his metaphoric relation with Brazil before knowing Glauber, Wim Wenders told he had no “symbolic countries” in the Germany he was born, after the Second World War. “It was a country devastated and without hopes. The German accumulated guilt over their shoulders. Since I can remember, I wanted to leave the country. So, I became a traveler. That’s my talent and my profession”, he said. It was only after “traveling a lot” that he was able to find Germany again.

About his Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire, 1987), which after many years of work abroad was filmed in Berlin, the director said the very city determined the movie’s form. As he described to the Brazilian audience: “I couldn’t find characters that show the city in its complexity. When I stopped thinking about the story and looked around, I saw these images of angels around me. So I accepted the tip the city was giving me and wrote in my notebook: ‘Guard angels?’”.

Sao Paulo - Venice

Today (Friday, 22th of August) Wim Wenders will participate in Sao Paulo on a movies discussion with Brazilian film director Walter Salles (Central Station) and the journalist Alcino Leite Neto, from the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, which is organizing the meeting.

After that, Wenders will probably head to Italy, where he will be the president of the jury during the 65th Venice Film Festival. In time: his last movie, Palermo Shooting, follows a important German photographer who gives up fame and tries to reconstruct his life in Palermo, Sicily (Italy).

07 August, 2008

6th Catalan Film Festival in Sao Paulo brings “the other Titanic” to Brazil

A scene of Bigas Luna's La camarera de Titanic (1997).

The 6th edition of the Catalan Film Festival in Sao Paulo (southeast of Brazil) started two days ago with a special attraction: the movie La camarera del Titanic (“The Chambermaid on the Titanic”), directed by Bigas Luna and released in 1997.

The title makes a great pair with Titanic, directed by North-American director James Cameron in the same year. While the blockbuster shows a love story between a rich girl and a plebeian, the Catalan version of the ship disaster is focused on the involvement of a chambermaid with a proletarian in a dreamlike atmosphere – which is far from the grandiosity of the drama represented by Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio.

The work of Juan José Bigas Luna, born in Barcelona in 1946, is the theme of a short retrospective organized by the Catalan Film Festival. Director of two well recognized movie pictures – one being La camarera del Titanic, which will be exhibited in Sao Paulo in 35 mm –, the Spanish director has participated on the Cannes Film Festival in 1978 with Bilbao and is told to be the discover of recognized Spanish actors such as Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz (both actors of Luna’s Jamón Jamón; see it here).

The 6th edition of the Catalan Film Festival in Sao Paulo takes place in Centro Cultural São Paulo, at Rua Vergueiro, number 1000. Here is the complete program, which goes on until next Sunday, 10th of August:

8/5 (Tuesday)
16h - Volavérunt
18h - Son de Mar
20h - Bilbao

8/6 (Wednesday)
16h - Huevos de Oro
18h - Volavérunt
20h - Jamón, Jamón

8/7 (Thursday)
16h - Son de Mar
18h - La Camarera del Titanic
20h - Huevos de Oro

8/8 (Friday)
16h - Jamón, Jamón
18h - Bilbao
20h - La Camarera del Titanic

8/9 (Saturday)
16h - La Camarera del Titanic
18h - Jamón, Jamón
20h - Volavérunt

8/10 (Sunday)
16h - Bilbao
18h - Huevos de Oro
20h - Son de Mar

Europe on South American big screens

Despite the Hollywood dominance in most of South America’s movie theaters, it’s no deceit to say there is an important presence of the European cinema around here, especially in capitals like Sao Paulo, in Brazil, Buenos Aires, in Argentina, Santiago, in Chile, and Bogotá, in Colombia – just to leave here a few examples.

Actually, the more South Americans get in contact with films made in Europe, the more they want to see it. That is, maybe, because movie directors and spectators here and there have a lot in common, starting with their preference for a “slower” kind of cinema. A more human kind, mostly, if we could say so.

This blog was (just) born to talk about European movie presence in South America. Festivals, events, public, discussions, similarities, differences or whatever relates Europe to South America in the big screen.

Living between Brazil and Colombia, I, personally, get to see a lot of initiatives aiming to divulge specially French, German and Spanish movies – and also lots of people in search of those movies. Those are, actually, great news.

Nothing actually against Hollywood, but it’s already time South America really opens its eyes and movie theaters to Europe. And, just for the record, “ojalá”* South American cinema can conquer the same in the old continent.

Before getting started, one last thing: please participate! Feel free to leave suggestions, comments or whatever you have to say.

Adelante ;-)

Camila Moraes

* “Ojalá”: very South American Spanish meaning “hopefully”.