07 July, 2009

Early, prolific Fassbinder in Peru

As Jean-Luc Godard once said: “How don’t they want him to die young, if he created alone the essential New German Cinema?” The French master was talking about his colleague Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who not only did 43 films during his short career, but also worked as an actor during the important moment that the German cinema lived between the 60’s and the 80’s.

For this great contribution also for the world cinema, Fassbinder is being remembered in Lima, Peru, for his early movies, in a retrospective called “Der erste Fassbinder” (the first Fassbinder) in the PUCP San Miguel, one of the main universities in the city.

Until the 23rd of July, the program includes the many movies he shot between 1969 and 1970, like “Liebe ist kälter als der Tod” (1969), “Katzelmacher” (1969), “Die Niklashauser Fahrt” (1970) and “Der amerikanische Soldat” (1970).

Entrances are free, but reservations are needed:

See details about the retrospective here.

Brazil gets a taste of “The Lubitsch Touch”

Comedies, historic dramas and musicals. While everybody else in Germany had something to do with German expressionism during the beginning of the 20th century, Ernst Lubitsch was “only” trying to entertain.

He left to the world a wide and rich filmography: 72 titles, done between 1914 and 1947, from which 15 will be shown in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from tomorrow, 8th of July, until the 19th of this month, in the exhibition called “The Lubitsch Touch – The Cinema of Ernst Lubitsch”, organized by the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil.

The event covers the phase when the director, born in Berlin, lived and produced in Germany and, later, his period in the United States, the country he chose to run from the Nazism.

In the program, four films are in 35 mm, six in 16 mm and five are on DVD format. The highlights are the restored versions (35 and 16 mm) of “Anna Boleyn” (1920, Germany), “Die Bergkatze” (1921, Germany), “Schuhpalast Pinkus” (1916, Germany), “Ninotchka” (1939, USA) and “To Be or Not to Be” (1942, USA), besides a fragment of “Die Flamme” (1922, Germany).

Arndt Röskens, the coordinator of the Panorama section inside the Berlin Film Festival and member of Rio de Janeiro Film Festival program committee, is responsible for the curatorship.

See the complete program here.

15 June, 2009

Danish cinema: life after Dogma in Buenos Aires

Danish cinema is paying a visit to Buenos Aires, making happy all those Argentineans that really love European movies. The Danish Cinema meeting (Encuentro de Cine Danés), organized by the Argentinean-Danish Commercial Chamber to show local Dogma fans what’s being produced in Denmark after this so important movement, started on the 5th of June and remains in two cinemas of the city (Leopoldo Lugones and Kino Palais de Glace) until the 22nd, this month.

Lars Andersen, one of the people involved in the organization, answered some question we had about the event, as well as about Danish cinema today and cultural exchanges between Europe and Latin America. Take a look.

What’s the goal behind the Danish film festival that is taking place in Buenos Aires?

Basically we just want to contribute to the cultural life here in Buenos Aires. No big deal. It is good fun doing something that is not that thought out. But then on the other hand, if Danish enterprises can improve their businesses because of this "buena onda", by all means - fine! But there is no cold, cynical strategy behind it all. Just the common notion that culture, the arts, is the backbone of every country’s identity. Once, during the Second World War, the British PM Winston Churchill, was asked by a member of the War Cabinet, if the allocations to the culture should not be reduced in order to strengthen the war effort. Churchill, who by no means was a left wing do-gooder and humanitarian, but a tough, old Conservative, answered: - Gentlemen, if we cut the budget for culture, the arts, then I don’t know what we are fighting for! 

Is it possible to talk about a new Danish film movement or are Danish movies today simply heirs of the Dogma 95 in terms of narration and aesthetics?

Dogma is all over, that is a fact. But of course something still lingers on. The actors, because of Dogma, got so much better for film work, the moving camera, all that shit, just improved their work, they were more free. And I suppose, also, the directors and screenwriters learned that it is possible to take wild chances, that everything does not have to be that so-called perfect or rigid, that everything does not have to be thought out or cost 10 million US-dollars to make a good movie. That’s the good lesson I think. BUT at the moment, NO, there is no new thing going on in the DK. Documentary is very big and very, very good. Fiction is more like normal. People making their movies, maintaining their careers. A wave like Dogma or the new wave in France in the Sixties only happens very seldom. We have to accept that. 

How do you see the presence of the Danish cinema in Argentina, leaving aside some punctual film exhibitions? Is it normally and commercially available?

In general, I think that Danish film is rather strong here in Argentina. Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg and Susanne Bier, they are all sort of big here, at least they are shown in the cinemas, being takled about. BUT as a whole, I don’t know -- I think it goes like the rest of European cinema in Latin America. It’s US blockbusters and Disney all over, strangling European film and basically, in the long run, killing Latin American culture and art and national identity. I am not saying this because I am anti-American, because I am not -- there are a lot of good movies coming out of Hollywood, but there is also coming a lot of crap, and both Europe and Latin America as continents and countries have to stand up for cultural diversity, it will get too God damn boring if it the same Disney birthday party for kids all over the world! 
Generally, I must say, it is difficult to get distribution for European films here. Of course, because of the North American dominance, but also, I think, because that a lot of Europeans think there is no money to be made in Latin America. For them it is just one big Africa. They simply don’t know how diverse Argentina is, how diverse almost every South American country is, they don’t know -- and that should be changed, for the sake of both parts. 

What was the criteria to select the films that integrate this exhibition?

We chose the films from the criteria that they, first, should be representative of the afterlife of Dogma, second, have an artistic vision and/or be provocative and somehow refreshing and groundbreaking.

How is European cinema present in Argentina? Is there a strong interest in European culture? Any bilateral agreements?

Talks, I think, with our Argentinean counterparts will evolve around the imminent fact that European and Latin American culture is under pressure, and that each country/continent, if indeed it is a country and not just a parallel society, must stand up, like France, proudly and defend its culture, art and identity. Film as a popular mass culture pheromone is of course front line number one. 

Concerning the interest for European film here in Argentina, there is quite a lot, but I think that Europeans, especially the Northerners must learn, that there is money to be made, there is a market, there is an educated audience, because they don’t know, they simply don’t know, everybody is looking towards Asia if we are talking about new markets, China, India, you name it. 
When I meet Argentinean directors, they say, if they are not turned towards the US businesswise, that the solution for Argentinean film is to acknowledge that Argentina IS a part of Latin America, that their natural partner is NOT Europe, but, for example, Brazil.
And that is sort of true, there is not a lot of collaboration with Europe at the moment, except for European companies going here to shoot relatively cheap, BUT maybe it could be different, maybe the day, when we realize that Europe and Latin America have more in common than Latin America and the US, is not that far off. Just maybe. The pressure is the same. The loss of identity, the same.

Photo: “Little soldier” (“Lille soldat”; 2008), from Annette K. Olesen, one of the movies in the Danish cinema program.

29 May, 2009

France and Brazil get closer through cinema

If in 2005 Brazil got culturally celebrated all over France, this year Brazil is paying homage to French movies, art, gastronomy, music etc, as part the “The year of France in Brazil” project. As cinema is concerned, many activities have already taken place and will throughout the year, especially in major cities like Sao Paulo (which actually has the best cultural circuit in Latin America) and Rio de Janeiro.

For the period between the 16th and the 25th of June, the second edition of the “Panorama do Cinema Francês no Brasil”(panorama of French cinema in Brazil) is being expected, with big French productions such as “Il y a longtemps que je t'aime”, from Philippe Claudel, “Paris 36”, from Cristophe Barratier, and “L'heure d'été”, from the darling French director Olivier Assayas.

Most of titles programmed in the festival will be exhibited this year in Brazilian movies, what is also an important measure inside the cultural exchange agreements planed for those special “French and Brazilian years” in both countries.

But the nice thing of this event is counting on the presence of important French film professionals like actor Vincent Cassel (photo), who has been love with Brazil and Brazilian cinema (he acted in “À deriva”, from Hector Dahlia, the Brazilian movie that competed in “Un certain regard”in Cannes this years) and also plays the protagonist in “L'ennemi public n°1” (included in the program). Its director, Jean-François Richet, will also participate in meetings organized with the public.

The sponsorship is Unifrance’s, responsible for promoting French cinema worldwide.

More information on films and events on:

18 April, 2009

World Cinema Fund in love with Latin America; Spotlight exhibition happens this year in Bogotá

Germany seems to be today one of the European countries that is not only interested in what comes from abroad in terms of culture, but also one of those that actually support different cultural views than their own. A concrete example of that is the Berlin Film Festival, which reveals more each year its political and social interests in a kind of alternative cinema that is produced by young filmmakers in parts of the world where cultural development depends a lot on external stimulus. Latin America for instance. And specially.

The World Cinema Fund (WCF) was launched by the Berlinale in 2004, initiated by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and in co-operation with the Goethe Institut, to support filmmakers in developing countries and regions which lack a constructive film industry. It is, nowadays, one of the most disputed funds among film producers in Latin America, Africa, Midelle East, Central and Southeast Asia and the Caucasus – places that certainly have a lot to tell about reality through their feature films and documentaries. The WCF is there to make it possible, having 500.000 Euros at is disposal each year. Not much, but a very important money.

The fund helps the production process of a project (not pre o post production) and also the distribution of “challenging innovative” films, narrative and aesthetically speaking, in Germany. Around 60 films (mostly feature films, although documentaries are equally welcome) have received the support from the WCF. Many of them are Latin, because, according to Vincenzo Bugno, one of the managers of the fund, “there is a great creative energy in Latin America. The region has been important for the WCF from its begging. We are very interested in young filmmakers with different languages and local issues that can be treated in an universal way. You can find all that here”, said Vincenzo in a press conference about the WCF in Bogotá this Friday (17th April).

He came to Colombia to present eight of the films the WCF has helped to produce in Latin America with the so called World Cinema Fund Spotlight – a short film exhibition that happens annually in three different cities around the world. In 2009, Bogotá has been chosen aside with Manila and Beirut. “I´m in love with Colombia since I visited the country for the first time last year during the Cartagena Film Festival. Besides, we have recently helped the production of two Colombian films, which means a lot for us and for Colombia”. The Colombian projects that have been supported by the WCF are Ciro Guerra’s “Los viajes del viento” and Rubén Mendonza’s “La sociedad del semáforo”. The first will be launched in the country on the 30th of April and the other is still in its shooting period.

The 8 titles brought by the WCF and the Goethe Institut are one of the most acclaimed inside the recent Latin American film production and hadn’t been launched in Colombia, as in many Latin American countries. Actually, Vincenzo knows distribution is today a major issue for the region, once the films that are produced here, with or without the help of such an international fund, just don’t circulate among neighbors. “Distribution is the next step for us. We realize the importance of promoting it, as it’s the central problem of the cinema everywhere today. Here it is a huge problem”.

For now, while distribution problems are being thought about, he invites all Latin Americans to submit their projects to the fund two times a year (via the Berlinale’s website) and suggests that Colombians should advantage of the Spotlight exhibition. “It’s an important step to bring those films here”, he says. It actually is.

To see the Spotlight 2009 program in Bogotá, click here.

Foto: “Los viajes del viento”, Colombian movie by Cirro Guerra, produced with German support.

13 March, 2009

French movie week in Argentina

French cinema lovers in Argentina are many – and they won’t have to wait long to get acquainted with what local distributors have prepared for them in 2009. “Les avant premières” is a special exhibition of French movies that include 12 titles to be launched in the country this year, organized between the 19th and the 25th of March in the theaters of Patio Bulrich, an upper-class shopping center in Buenos Aires.

The program includes “Entre les murs” (Laurent Cantet; 2008), the acclaimed Golden Palm in Cannes last year, “Rumba” (Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy; 2008), an independent dark comedy by well established theater actors Fiona Gordon and Domique Abel (on the photo), “Le silence de Lorna” (Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne; 2008), which got the best screenplay also in Cannes last year, and other titles mostly from 2006 and 2007. Certainly, this is good news.

But the question is: why does it take so long for important European titles to come to South America and why can’t they normally occupy the theaters? Anyway, it seems movies distribution between South America will get better with a special agreement that’s just been signed in Mexico (read about it here).

“Les avant premières” is an initiative from different French sponsors, including the French Embassy in Argentina, TV5, UniFrance, Alliance Française, Citroën and the French movie magazine Inrockuptibles. The organization is by Argentina cultural production company Green Tara. Check the full program.

27 February, 2009

European cinema, a cool breeze in Colombia

In most Latin American countries, right after the movies from Hollywood that take over the theaters normally with “blockbusters” all year round, come the European movies, which are seen in the region mostly as “art cinema”, although they naturally not always are.

In Colombia, for instance, some of the local distributors give special attention to European titles, trying to keep bringing to cities like Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, mostly, those titles that get prizes in festival or else the best box-offices in their home countries. Pantalla Colombia, the weekly newsletter that informs all about movies in Colombia, has brought up this month some statistics on the European features that had the highest box offices in the country last year.

On the top of the list, comes “El Orfanato” (Mexico-Spain), the debut of Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona, which conquered almost 500 thousand viewers. Right after it, but far in terms of spectators, comes “La Môme” (France-UK-Czech Republic), from French filmmaker Olivier Dahan, with almost 65 thousand viewers. With similar numbers, around 31 and 35 thousand viewers, come “Die fälscher” (Austria-Germany), from Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky, “Le scaphandre et le papillon” (France-USA), from American director Julian Schnabel, and “The other Boleyn girl” (UK-USA), from English director Justin Chadwick.

The numbers are actually low, but actually not poor if one thinks on Colombia’s normal film statistics, which reveal that less than 2,5 million people go to the movies (according to Pantalla Colombia again). The important thing is: Europe seems the only one to bring a “cool breeze” for Colombians who look for non-bad-Hollywood kind of cinema (no need to talk about cinephilia here). The statistics for Colombian or Latin American movies are even lower in the country.

25 February, 2009

Pantalla Pinamar soon to celebrate latest in European cinema in new March slot

Some of the most celebrated European films of 2008 will be shown from March 7-14 in Argentina as part of Pantalla Pinamar, the Argentine-European film series held annually at the exclusive seaside resort city on the Argentine coast. The event’s objective is to strengthen the bond between both industries and create future collaboration.

The fifth edition of Pantalla Pinamar will open with Carlos Sorín’s Spanish/Argentine co-production The Window and will feature Laurent Cantet’s The Class, Manuel Gomez Pereira’s The Hanged Man, Matteo Garrone’s Gomorra (part of the section The Event), Dennis Gansel’s The Wave and Lorna’s Silence by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

There will also be a special section dedicated to new Czech cinema, a “surprise movie” by a Western European director that will be unveiled one minute before its screening, a selection of the best of the Malaga Film Festival. All the European titles are avant-premieres or special screenings as they do not yet have a local distributor.

The fifth edition of the event has been moved to March from its traditional December time slot so as to not directly follow the new November dates of the Mar del Plata Film Festival. Pantalla Pinamar is organized by the National Institute of Film and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) and the City of Pinamar, and promoted by the Cultural Institute of the Province of Buenos Aires.

13 February, 2009

Werner Herzog in love with Peru

One of the most important and active German filmmakers alive, Werner Herzog seems always ready to extol Peru. In the country for the fourth time to work on his movies, the director recently nominated to the Oscar in 2008 for “Encounters at the end of the world” went to Cusco to shoot a sequence for “My Son, my son, what have ye done”, a horror movie to be launched in 2010 with David Lynch’s production and the actor Michael Shannon playing the main role.

“Peru is a paradise for a filmmaker”, said Herzog in an exclusive interview for Oscar García published in “Somos” magazine. “It has very strong history and culture, besides wonderful landscapes, beaches, mountains and forests. It’s five countries in one”. Among the movies Herzog has visited Peru for are “Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes” (1972) and “Fitzcarraldo” (1981), where Klaus Kisnki plays a rubber undertaker that decides to build a boat in the middle of the jungle.

This time, the adventurous director wanted to shoot some scenes in the Urubamba river, “one of the most dangerous in the world” – he declared. “I am working in this movie that we are going to start filming soon. This great sequence that takes place in the Urubamba river had to be done now, because it’s even stronger in January. So I decided to come, invited by my friend José Koechlin, who helped organize this trip over night. He has always been my ambassador”.

See Herzog’s comments on filming "Fitzcarraldo" in the Peruvian jungle in You Tube:

22 January, 2009

Cine europeo en Argentina - Se aproxima el evento “Pantalla Pinamar”

Algunos de los filmes europeos más celebrados de 2008 tendrán su estreno en la Argentina en el marco de Pantalla Pinamar, el encuentro cinematográfico argentino-europeo que se celebra anualmente en la exclusiva ciudad balnearia de la costa argentina, con el objetivo de propiciar el acercamiento entre ambas cinematografías para posibilitar una colaboración futura.

Luego de anunciarse que la quinta edición de Pantalla Pinamar se iniciará con la primera proyección pública de la coproducción argentino-española "La ventana", de Carlos Sorín, se ha dado a conocer que el certamen exhibirá "Entre los Muros" (Entre les Murs), de Laurent Cantet; "El Juego del Ahorcado", de Manuel Gómez Pereira; "Gomorra", de Matteo Garrone; "La Ola", de Dennis Gansel, y "El Silencio de Lorna", de Jean-Pierre y Luc Dardenne.

Además de estos títulos ya confirmados, la presencia europea se completará con una sección especial dedicada al nuevo cine checo, la exhibición como "película sorpresa" de la obra de un director de Europa Occidental que se descubrirá un minuto antes de su función y una selección de "lo mejor del Festival de Málaga". Todas las películas europeas se proyectarán en calidad de pre-estreno o se exhibirán por única vez en el país por no contar con un distribuidor local.

Como es habitual, una delegación de integrantes de las industrias argentina y europea acompañarán las alternativas de este certamen, que en años previos propició la firma de convenios de colaboración entre el país anfitrión y las cinematografías española, italiana y suiza, entre otras.

Organizado por el Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA) y el Municipio de Pinamar, con el auspicio del Instituto Cultural de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Pantalla Pinamar desarrollará su quinta edición del 7 al 14 de marzo, luego de abandonar su tradicional cita de diciembre por el cambio de fecha del Festival Internacional de Cine de Mar del Plata, reubicado en el mes de noviembre.

El certamen cuenta con una única competencia oficial, en la que distingue con sus Premios Balance de Oro, de Plata y de Bronce, a las mejores películas argentinas de una selección de filmes nacionales que destacaron en los festivales considerados Clase A. Los ganadores se eligen mediante el voto del público y la prensa.

Cynthia García Calvo