Premios “Mirada Personal”

PERSONAL VIEW 2011

JOSÉ LUIS GUERÍN

Premios "Mirada Personal" Premios "Mirada Personal" guerinFilmografía / Filmography

Los motivos de Berta (1985)

Innisfree (1990)

Tren de sombras (El espectro de Le Thuit) (1997)

En construcción (2001)

Unas fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia (2007)

En la ciudad de Sylvia (2007)

Guest (2010)

Dos cartas a Ana (2010)

Correspondencia Jonas Mekas – J.L. Guerin (2011) Recuerdos de una mañana (2011), Jeonju Digital Project, Corea del Sur

Premios /Prizes

Premio Nacional de Cinematografía (2001), España

National Prize of Cinematography (2001), Spain

Exposiciones / Exhibitions

“Las mujeres que no conocemos”

52 Bienal de Arte de Venecia (2007)

CCCB – Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (2008)

“La dama de Corinto”

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente

(2010-2011)

A look at the Films of José Luis Guerín

The intimacy of the observed

The sixth edition of MiradasDoc gives the Personal View (Mirada Personal) Prize to José Luis Guerín. A heterodox film-maker who has converted the investigation of time in images into a reflection around which all his work revolves. That time in which sculptures are made, according to Tarkovski and which is the obsession of creators who work in cinematographic language.  Those images in time constitute the basis for documentary cinema, the memory that Sartori defined as Homo Videns, a cinema in which Guerín has left some of the most valuable works in the cinematography of this country over the last few decades.

With the vocation of fleeing stereotypes, showing apparently simple elements, Guerín brings us closer to details which may supply a unique emotion through polished settings of a pictorial original, in the majority of his work. In his most recent films, which the audience at MiradasDoc will be able to enjoy, Guest (2011) and Correspondencia con Jonas Mekas (2009-2011) Guerín has drifted towards a greater spontaneity, towards a certain intentional amateurism, supplying a greater degree of subjectivity in the actions he narrates. He enters the epistolary genre, with a number of filmed letters which are addressed to the independent film director par excellence, Jonas Mekas, and in the intimate audiovisual diary, a kind of travel diary around the world of film festivals. It is in those margins of cinematography that the work of Guerín fits in, independently of the fact that already from the point of view of the most conventional criticism, this genre is despised as a foreign element, beyond the limits of what is acceptable in literature.

The work of José Luis Guerín is a reflection from the frontiers which separate fiction from the documentary, craftwork from the industrial, the intimate image that is proper to photography in the home rather than what is projected in a cinema, the personal from the social. What is to be found in the margins of the canon has taken Guerín from the meta-cinematographic investigation of a work produced by the most classical Hollywood to a filmed travel diary in Guest (2011), the most personal work – taking as personal something intimate, unique, which is his own and almost unconfessable – of the film-maker up to the present. Thus, in his narration, we can appreciate the private matters of images taken in a public space. And the externalisation of images from the private sphere.

The journey as a narrative element

In Guest, he is favoured by that status that the Guest has at festivals held all round the world for the creation of a network of experiences, an audiovisual diary inside that parallel world of red carpets, brilliant prizes and flashes which aim to find a thread which joins the experiences in the different cities where he is invited to present one of his works, En la ciudad de Silvia (2007 – In Silvia’s City). But earlier, the journey to Ireland or to Normandy is also revealed as one of the keys to understanding his vision of each story.

The holy space which he finds for us in Innisfree (1990) conceives the location of The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952) as a space of memory, which leaves its mark on future generations, which see their past represented in a work of fiction and who internalise it as something of their own.  The reconstruction in memory of a space, a house, in situ, by the children of the time, who are now adults, is marvellous. The children of that Innisfree of Guerín’s seem to see in the characters old inhabitants of the district. They tell the plot in close ups in the manner of the classic documentary interview. Among other narrative pieces, they tell the story of the church, where John Wayne offers holy water to Maureen O´Hara from his hand. Curiously in the same year Luis Buñuel repeated the idea in Mexico during the shooting of Él (1952 – This Strange Passion), the idea of a man’s conquest of a woman inside a church with a sacred element offered in a sinful manner, with carnal contact. It is almost an ethnological documentary with those close ups. The human face is the protagonist, the portrait of that place is also captured for posterity through its people.

The idealization of nobility and of the innocence of a place and of its inhabitants resides both in Ford’s work and in that of Guerín, that concept is also expressed through the children of Innisfree.

John Ford’s empty chair, as a tribute to the director of Irish extraction who conceived his work as a homage to his place of origin. The chair with the director’s name is a sign of ownership. That space, on being filmed, became a possession of the director. First it belonged to John Ford, and now Innisfree also belongs to Guerín.

Time recovered

There is a certain nostalgia for past times in the works of Guerín. A romanticism which clearly impregnates both Tren de sombras and Innisfree. A nostalgia for a present which, once filmed, will leave its mark, creating a legacy of the filmed space within the universe of the recorded image. The idea of a second filming which takes in those shadows and reinterprets them, this time in an intentional manner, comes out in both works. In all Guerín’s work, we can appreciate an enormous fluidity between images and sounds of different times.

The super-imposition of dialogues from Ford’s film which speak of the geographical space of the district over images of windy Innisfree in 1990 bring together the same space at different times, the image and the sound track of the film. They are echoes of a false past which the inhabitants have absorbed as their own, like old neighbours, close relations. The wind appears to bring that past to the spectator.

The shadows of those characters trapped on celluloid, for centuries, those who were actors become ghosts just like the new inhabitants of that space in the cinematographic universe called Innisfree. Those children who were interviewed, who will grow old, or the old people who remember Ford, Wayne and O´Hara who are probably no longer in the Innisfree of our times, in our dimension, but who will live for ever in the 1990 film and in our collective memory they will stand together with Wayne and O´Hara.

There is in Guerín’s work a struggle between memory and history, between fiction and documentary, between classic and contemporary cinema. On that diffuse frontier between genres which he reconnoitres in his documentary En construcción he has elements which related it to Barrio (Fernando León de Aranoa, 1998) just as Innisfree or Tren de sombras may have them in common with El sur (Víctor Erice, 1983).

Recovery of images and sounds for the present (in

Tren de sombras or Innisfree as a kind of filmed archaeology) in a direct manner, this discovery of the past is materialised in the works of the Chinaman in Barcelona. Guerín investigates images to extract hidden meanings, buried in the arena of time. What is more, gestures and words are frozen (the “things that are seen and heard”) in the district. The filming implies many hours in which it is the images that dictate the path to follow.

Guerín’s view is a frontal one, patient and alert. Non-intervention in reality, the positioning of a non-interventionist camera which spies actions and reactions to discover the extraordinary within the ordinary. A gesture, an image, a sentence or a look. Discovering the beauty of the fleeting, of that instant recorded on film directly from the lights that make up reality. Details which pass unnoticed before the haste of other views.

It is archaeology again that transports us through the history of cinema to another discovery of the 1950s in Italy, during the shooting of Viaggio in Italia (1953), when the mummified bodies of a couple are found in Pompeii and Rosellini asks to be allowed to film the reaction of Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders. Among our Chinese neighbours, we can find similar gestures before the remains of people buried at their feet.  “Life is so short” says Bergman. The resonance of her words takes us, without intending to, to Chinatown in a silent cinematographic dialogue between works which are separated by little more than half a century.

Projecting spirits

We can find in his cinema the poetry of naked images, which are quiet and patient, while waiting to be recovered. Vaporous objects which fade away, fade into other images, representing a single space at a different time.

People who become shadows when they film and are filmed. All Guerín’s cinema contains that heavy load of Ubi sunt? That kind of time capsule of each film is a footprint of many meanings left for future generations within each image. With a number of possible stories within each character represented which ramifies the readings of the film.

PERSONAL VIEW 2011

David Bradbury

david Premios "Mirada Personal" Premios "Mirada Personal" david bradbury ok1

David Bradbury is one of Australia’s best-known and most successful documentary filmmakers whose work takes us into the heart of struggles for environmental, social and political justice around the world. His films have been shown on all the major Australian commercial and public broadcast networks as well as overseas. Bradbury has won countless international film festival prizes and was the winner of five AFI awards and two Academy Award nominations. He began his career as a radio journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1972. Bradbury worked as a freelance journalist covering the Spring Revolution in Portugal in 1974 as well as the overthrow of the Greek military junta in Athens that same year and the final days of the Shah of Iran.

David Bradbury es uno de los directores de documentales más conocidos y más exitosos de Australia cuyo trabajo nos lleva al corazón de luchas para la justicia ambiental, social y política en el mundo entero. Sus documentales han sido mostrados en todas los principales medios de difusión privados y públicos  de Australia así como fuera de allí. Bradbury ha ganado incontables premios de festivales  internacionales de cine y ha sido ganador de cinco premios de AFI y dos veces candidato al Oscar. Comenzó su carrera como periodista de radio con la Corporación de Difusión Australiana en 1972. Bradbury trabajó como periodista independiente cubriendo la Revolución de los claveles en Portugal en 1974 así como el derrocamiento de la junta militar griega en Atenas el mismo año y los días finales del Sha de Irán.

FRONTLINE

David Bradbury / 65´ / 1979 / Australia / Betacam SP front Premios "Mirada Personal" Premios "Mirada Personal" frontline1An account of the Vietnam war as seen through the camera of Australian journalist Neil Davis. His footage of the conflict was seen nightly by millions. Vietnam was a television war, a war said to have been lost in the lounge rooms of middle America. and not on the battlefield.

 

Dirección / Direction: David Bradbury

Producción / Production:  David Bradbury

Guión / Script:  David Bradbury

FOND MEMORIES OF CUBA

David Bradbury / 77´ / 2002 / Australia / Betacam SP fond Premios "Mirada Personal" Premios "Mirada Personal" fond1A film that expresses the passionate vitality of the Cuban people and their willingness to embrace life and “get on with it” despite the challenges facing the island nation.

Dirección / Direction: David Bradbury

Producción / Production:  David Bradbury

Guión / Script:  David Bradbury

Edición / Editing: Tim Litchfield

MY ASIAN HEART

David Bradbury / 70´ / 2008 / Australia / Betacam SP

asian Premios "Mirada Personal" Premios "Mirada Personal" asian1You might not know Philip Blenkinsop’s name but chances are you have seen his frontline photographs. His work has appeared on the front cover of Time Magazine and his documentary art has been exhibited in countless galleries around the world. Philip’s creative stomping ground is South East Asia, where he divides his time documenting current civilian uprisings and lesser-known wars.

In 1989 Philip left his comfortable life in Australia to pursue a photojournalism career in China. To his own surprise, he finds himself still there 20 years later, now trying to create a workspace in an impressively chaotic studio. This is where Oscar-nominated filmmaker David Bradbury catches up with him, and it is one of the rare times that we see Philip confined to the indoors. Unlike many of his journalist peers, Philip refuses to be corralled at a Hilton buffet and escorted to political hotspots. The majority of Philip’s time is spent dodging teargas and rubber bullets as he ekes toward the epicentre of conflict and experiences the edges of human emotion.

Dirección / Direction: David Bradbury

Producción / Production:  David Bradbury

Guión / Script:  David Bradbury

NICARAGUA: NO PASARÁN

David Bradbury / 74´ / 1983 / Australia / Betacam SP nicaragua Premios "Mirada Personal" Premios "Mirada Personal" nicaragua no pasaran1In 1978 the revolutionary Sandinista movement came to government after 43 years of organised resistance and the death of 50,000 Nicaraguans.

Dirección / Direction: David Bradbury

Producción / Production:  David Bradbury

Guión / Script:  David BradburyEdición / Editing: Stewart Young

Fotografía / Cinematography: Geoffrey Simpson

ERSONAL VIEW 09

Joaquín Jordá

THE STEADY GAZE

(Notes to celebrate Joaquín Jordá)

joaquin jorda Premios "Mirada Personal" Premios "Mirada Personal" jordaThe people in our recent culture who become greater in our memory as time passes are rare indeed. Joaquín Jordá is one of them. Perhaps because we regret his absence like an unequivocal testimony of the weight of his presence. Perhaps because in his voice, in his gestures, in his way of walking, in his gaze, above all in his gaze, a unique and unrepeatable capital of experience came into play. Very probably because Joaquín was the leading actor in all the feats that have been attributed to him and these, like his ideas, –round, exquisite, original even within the orthodoxy–, belonged almost invariably to the order of certainties.

A succinct evocation leads us to pass, hardly leaving a record, over two facets of his polyhedral career: on the one hand, an early communist militancy, and on the other, his exhaustive link with books – supporting the birth of impossible publishers such as Praxis, directing film collections for the publishers, Anagrama, translating, with accredited rigour, a large number of texts, from the Marquis de Sade, Georges Bataille or any other “classical author” to those drifting from the “new” amorous disorders of Alain Finkielkraut. For a long time, it was not at all strange to find that the most interesting books, those that you could not put down, bore the fingerprints of Joaquín Jordá.

It is necessary to remember his decisive intervention in such a relevant event in the history of Spanish cinemaas the foundation and the life of the so-called School of Barcelona. At the end of the 1960s, a group of people came together to each shoot an episode of a film which was intended to be innovative, shattering, loaded with the future. They were Pere Portabella, Jacinto Esteva, Gonzalo Suárez, Ricardo Bofi ll, Antonio de Senillosa and Joaquín Jordá. Joaquín and Jacinto Esteva saved themselves from scepticism by putting their two episodes into the full-length fi lm, Dante no es únicamente severo (1967), the literal point of ignition of that phenomenon. In a brief interval – even time was different in those days -, three, four, five years, according to who is doing the counting, the recognisable members and those who excluded themselves (Pere Portabella…) shot so much ammunition against themselves that there are historians who deny the existence of the School itself. However that may be, it is a commonplace or a feat to attribute the drawing up of his programmatic manifesto and, subsequently, his directing or his ideological tutelage to the political shrewdness and the intelligence of Joaquín.

Initially a cinema scriptwriter from the early sixties to the end of the century (for Carlos Durán, Mario Camus, León Klimovsky, Germán Lorente and Vicente Aranda, with whom he also worked for television…), his scripts written but not used or his projects (for video too) fascinating, chaotic and condemned to the anonymous bottom of the drawers in his house add up to over fifty.

His first work as a filmmaker, Día de los muertos (1960), is a sarcastic look at 1st November, All Soul’s Day, in the ritual Madrid version, which was inscribed on the tripe of the “documentary” short, a filmic area that he refined as time passed.

For reasons that are explainable although rather longwinded, Joaquín wandered around Europe for a few years and left his mark in the form of “militant” fi lms, Portogallo, paese tranquilo (1969), Il per ché del dissenso (1969), I tupamaros ci parlamo (1969), Lenin vivo (1970) and Spezziamo la catene (1971), are all examples of an imaginative use of want, from an extreme poverty of resources and his link with the political struggle within communist discourse but not its orthodoxy.

Back in Barcelona, he waited for almost ten years until he made Numax presenta… (1979), first, and Veinte años no es nada (2004), later. In the first, the militant witness, now without a party, of the long struggle of the workers of the Numax company and of their self-governing experience; and in the other he turns his view upon the same workers eroded by time on the open furrows in that collective body of workers which does not forget but which has been split into a thousand splinters. That rough and notable diptych is, in the end, the writing in film of the ups and downs of a generation that took the working class as the axis and the subject of the story.

El encargo del cazador (1990) too was a generational matter with a pretext assimilated to the filmic memory of a friend, Jacinto Esteva, who had died in 1985. Redolent of a notable melancholic tension, a tremblingly “neutral” camera-eye framed a few corpses present (on leave, as Lenin would say) to emphasise the grief for an absent friend. Thanks to TVE, the film slept for a decade in the darkroom and was never distributed in cinemas.

In the 1990s, Joaquín taught numerous seminars and courses on scriptwriting, he wrote quite a few films for other filmmakers and in 1995 he joined Universitat Pompeu Fabra as a teacher. A little later, he made an excellent rural thriller, Cuerpo en el bosque (1996), which is more exactly rural and political, located in the entrails of the Guardia Civil with a memorable humour that was close to sordid.

And, after a short time, as he told later, “I suddenly saw a shock of light, a ray within my head “. He so summarised the episode of 1997, a devastating stroke which attacked his capacity to orient himself in space and time and to understand or decode anything written. That fact unbalanced a person who had constructed a large part of his cosmovision with books, writing and his gaze, because all of that became fractured. He then did a great job, perhaps the best of them all, recovering his “good framing”, his certain gaze, as a subject and as a subject in the world.

His last few years were very fertile, almost febrile… and of his texts, scripts, classes and films we shall only emphasise two: the final pieces, particularly Monos como Becky (1999), and his involvement as a teacher in the Masters in Documentary Creation at Pompeu Fabra. In 1990 he began working on the “character”, Egas Moniz, a Portuguese neurologist and Nobel Prize Winner who dared to enter the human brain with a scalpel. Nine years later, metabolising his cerebral episode and on the initiative of the masters programme and of Jordi Batlló he was able to make his film.

Recognition in the form of prizes served to fix his talent, which had come a long way, with a public gaze which was limited to certifying the obvious: a career in the cinematographic territory lucidly sceptical with the institutional. Sitges, Crítica Catalana, Sant Jordi, Ciudad de Barcelona, Carballiño, the National Cinematography Prize of the Regional Government or in Venice with the showing outside

the competition of Monos como Becky… many hands came together and many criteria around Joaquín Jordá and a film which is of an unforgettable warmth and “documentary” intelligence.

Comparing the double “documentary” operation between the Numax workers and the excremental residues of the “modern” psychiatric institution speaks, for whoever wishes to hear, of a filmic ethic which ran through all the work of Joaquín Jordá. In a poem by W .H. Auden, one verse said sententiously “only time knows the price that we have to pay“. A number of filmmakers who were trained or who learned by working on his films…Marc Recha, Isaki Lacuesta, Carla Subirana, Nuria Villazán…willingly pay that price to a person who, apart from knowing was able to teach part of what he knew (without a doubt, the signatories to this article do so too, as well as the cast of teachers that Joaquín amazed with his observations in the long and delicious sessions of debate about “how to teach what we teach” that we held in Valencia during the first few years of life of the Scriptwriters Training Centre and of the Foundation for Research on the Audiovisual/UIMP).

Since his final disappearance, the memory of Joaquín Jordá continues to grow for those of us who knew and loved him. And also for those who get to know him now. The MiradasDoc initiative is, without a doubt, a splendid and generous moment to gain depth in the celebration and the extension of that knowledge which is a re-cognition. Perhaps this was written by Roland Barthes or maybe it was Claude Levi-Strauss, we don’t care. A tribe of unknown location stopped using a word for ever, which was dragged out from their common language, when somebody fundamental to the group died. The signatories to this text have also carefully chosen the word which we shall no longer use to celebrate the free gaze of Joaquín Jordá.

Vicente Ponce Critic, historian and teacher of cinema

Joan Álvarez Scriptwriter, journalist and teacher of cinema

PERSONAL VIEW 08

 

Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami Premios "Mirada Personal" Premios "Mirada Personal" kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami is about to celebrate his fourth decade as a filmmaker, having conquered practically every sphere of the film world, except, of course, Hollywood. Few directors have garnered as many awards and honors as he has. He has won prizes at Cannes and Venice, and is revered as a master of Contemporary Film and even as the living legend of Iranian Film.

And he has not achieved this by using massive amounts of resources and huge budgets, nor does he wish to do so. Instead, he relies on his brilliant and very personal creative vision. His films, with their simple scripts, leave a profound mark on viewers. He habitually resorts to offering films that are poetic, not just in terms of the dialogues, but also in the sense that the scenes themselves show that he is well acquainted with poetry. Not surprisingly, two of his films, “The Wind Will Carry Us” and “Where Is the Friend’s Home?”, are named after poems by Frugh Farajzad and Sohrab Sepehri, respectively, both of who are important figures in contemporary Persian literature.

Kiarostami is apt at jumping between the real and the ideal, using scenes that are fairly realistic and portrayed by amateur actors. This is why it’s easy to lose track of where documentary ends and fiction begins. But, perhaps what this director hopes to achieve is to remove the barriers between these two terms. He reminds us that, under the director’s control, the camera captures a part of reality where everything has a role to play: an old woman, a tree, or even a cow.
Ahmad Taheri
Director of the Persepolis Cultural Centre