- Kathleen Collins, Mabel Itzcovich, The Victor Jara Collective, and José Rodríguez Soltero are the creators we will get to know better in this version of the festival.
- A tribute to Max Linder and the celebration of 50 years of Touki Bouki and 100 years of Our Hospitality complement this traditional section of the Valdivian event.
The Tributes selected this year for the out-of-competition program in the 30th edition of FICValdivia bring together creators who have related to the cinematographic endeavor both from writing, criticism, and teaching, as well as from political resistance-dissidence, and from these fronts, they have developed early bodies of work that remain generally unknown to mass audiences. Working outside the industry or in experimental collectives, most of the pictures included in these focuses have a special emphasis in their Latino, Afro-American, or Caribbean nature, and are programmed to bring them to the attention of new audiences.
KATHLEEN COLLINS: PIONEER OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CINEMA
Born in New Jersey, Kathleen Collins (1942-1988) moved indistinctly through literature, playwriting, and film, understanding each of these scenarios as spaces she had to conquer for her concerns about the struggle for Afro-descendant communities in the United States. Collins trained in film history and screenwriting at New York University, teachings that resulted in her first work, The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy, a 50-minute medium-length, released in 1980, that adapts one of the short stories that a prolific Henry H. Roth wrote about the Puerto Rican immigrant community.
The film tells the story of three young brothers devastated by their father’s murder during a robbery, who are forced to redefine their existence in New York, when an elderly woman hires them to remodel her house. The picture crystallizes the director’s preoccupation with minimal stories and characters that are partly alienated from American society.
She revisits her approach to small stories in Losing Ground, shot two years later, which describes the relationship between a young university philosophy professor of Puerto Rican origin and her artist husband (played by fellow filmmaker Bill Gunn). Their bond becomes strained when both of them – she being cold and cerebral, and he, an overly enthusiastic dreamer – move for a month to a summer house, where he hopes to sell some of his work. Built as a comedy, Losing Ground has a sense of rhythm that is reminiscent of the musical genre, which is enhanced precisely by the opposing personalities of its leading couple.
At the time, neither work was released commercially in theaters, and it was thanks to the tenacity of the author’s daughter, Nina Collins, that it was possible to restore the original 16mm negatives and join forces, in 2014, with distributor Milestone Films, to make these two movies available to entirely new audiences, vindicating Collins’ legacy as one of the first women filmmakers of African descent in her country.
Tribute to Kathleen Collins
The Cruz brothers and Miss Malloy, by Kathleen Collins. Estados Unidos. 1980. 50 minutes. DCP.
Losing ground, by Kathleen Collins. Estados Unidos. 1982. 867 minutes. DCP.
THE RESCUE OF MABEL ITZCOVICH
An important part in the development of the love for cinema in Argentina since the 1960s is due to Mabel Itzcovich’s work (1927-2004). A film chronicler, teacher, screenwriter, and a very personal filmmaker, she built a corpus of four short documentaries that opened the doors to new forms of inquiry into the reality of her country.
De los Abandonados (1962) is a short piece that goes inside the Ricardo Gutiérrez Children’s Hospital, to observe the way “hospitalism syndrome” affects infants who have been hospitalized without the company of their mothers. From a camera that shows the facility’s darkness and precariousness, the short builds a narrative made subjective by the voice of actress Norma Aleandro, that seeks empathize directly with the mothers.
Soy de Aquí (1963) explores the reality, and expectations for the future, of young people in the Sarandí neighborhood, in the city of Avellaneda. Taking references from cinema-survey, the film also depicts her relationship with the political contingency, even her bodily attitude, and from there, it looks at the stratification of roles between men and women.
After Los Sin Tierra (1965), Itzcovich made Los Cara Sucias (1969), her only foray with actors, which included the support of Ricardo Aronovich, then a young cinematographer. The title delves into soccer culture from a multidisciplinary perspective -fans, players, institutions-, emphasizing the deep popular connection with the game, and showcasing the training and individual discipline required to reach the forefront of the sport. After this movie, Itzcovich settled in Paris, thanks to a grant from Agence France Presse and, after the coup in Argentina, she resided in Rome until 1984, when she returned to her country, to focus mainly on writing critiques.
Tribute to Mabel Itzcovich
De los abandonados, by Mabel Itzcovich. Argentina, 1962. 10 minutes. 35mm.
Soy de aquí, by Mabel Itzcovich. Argentina, 1965. 15 minutes. Digital.
Los cara sucias, by Mabel Itzcovich. Argentina, 1969. 22 minutes. Digital.
THE CRY OF ANTICOLONIAL CINEMA AND ITS CONNECTION WITH CHILE
The impact of Victor Jara’s murder, on September 28, 1973, motivated a group of young Guyanese filmmakers to christen the film collective they had formed with his name. Following the trajectory and influence of the new cinemas in Latin America, the group sought to give rise to a nucleus of creation and political inquiry capable of generating its own aesthetic, as had occurred in countries such as Brazil and Cuba. Thus, their proposal replicated the radical intensity of the political transformations and nationalizations the Forbes Burnham government had been pushing, since 1970. The Victor Jara Collective managed to make two films in just over five years of existence: The Terror and the Time (1978) and In the Sky’s Wild Noise (1983).
The first is a documentary chronicle that recalls the uprisings that took place, in 1953, against colonial domination in what was then British Guiana, and in which, in addition to a desire for historical reconstruction, there is evidence of a need to align the struggle for decolonization with the spirit of the great libertarian processes in Latin America and Africa. Aligned with this purpose, The Terror and the Time stands out for its highly meticulous aesthetic approach, highlighting the expressionist treatment of the landscape, linking its visuality with a pictorial tradition that could be traced back to the Mexican cinema of the 1940s.
Five years after this experience, hindered by censorship in their country, the collective made In the Sky’s Wild Noise, a medium-length about the figure and work of historian and activist Walter Rodney, an influential figure in the Latin American Black Power movement, author of the famous essay How Europe Underdeveloped Africa in 1972, assassinated in Guyana in 1980. The documentary reiterates the collective’s aesthetic concern, resorting to a similar chiaroscuro to link the circumstances of Rodney’s massive funeral with an interview they conducted, in 1977 -as part of the material for The Terror and the Time-, in which Rodney gives an account of part of his biography and thought.
Both films will be presented at FICValdivia by Lewanne Jones, an original member of the collective.
Tribute to The Victor Jara Collective
The terror and the time, by The Victor Jara Collective. Guyana. 1978. 75 minutes. 16mm.
In the sky ‘s wilde noise, by The Victor Jara Collective. Guyana. 1983. 29 minutes. 16mm.
JOSÉ RODRÍGUEZ SOLTERO: THE QUEER AVANT-GARDE OF A PUERTO RICAN IN NEW YORK
The name of José Rodríguez Soltero (1943-2009) refers back to the first moments of the Latino underground scene in New York City. His work is nourished both by his own roots and by the effervescent activity linked to the New American Cinema Group. This scenario amplified the perspectives of his nascent work, started in Puerto Rico during the first half of the sixties, to the point of impregnating it with the experimental concerns of the New York scene. From this second period, two key movies were born, Jerovi (1965) and Lupe (1966), inescapable titles in the context of American avant-garde cinema.
Jerovi is a twelve-minute short that reinstates a surrealist aspect that could relate Rodríguez Soltero to the work of Jean Cocteau; it borrows traces of Greek mythology to construct a sexualized parable of Narcissus, very close to the imagery the French director used to construct his Orpheus, in 1949, but transferring the context to the environment of the sexual revolution of the 1960s. The film originated from a request that artist Jeroví Sansón Carrasco, a friend of director, commissioned and financed to place him as the sole protagonist of this experience centered on the body and initially conceived to be projected at 16 frames per second, thus reducing its speed of exposure on the screen.
With Lupe, Rodríguez Soltero approaches the figure of the mythical Mexican actress Lupe Vélez, out of a cross-dressing show performed by artist Mario Montez. In its sense of performance, camp aesthetics, and a permanent will to create distance, the film freely avails itself of the tools of staging, to narrate Vélez’s rise and fall in the dog-eat-dog environment of the Hollywood industry. The picture has, in equal measure, a vocation for visual spectacle and a will for transgression, and both dimensions anticipate to a great extent what will be the fundamental aesthetics for filmmakers such as John Waters and Pedro Almodóvar.
Tribute to José Rodríguez Soltero
Jerovi, by José Rodríguez Soltero. Estados Unidos. 1965. 12 minutes. 16 mm.
Lupe, by José Rodríguez Soltero. Estados Unidos. 1966. 50 minutes. 16 mm.
THE SEED OF SENEGALESE CINEMA: 50 YEARS OF TOUKI BOUKI
The cultural relations between France and Senegal are ultimately the main theme in Touki Bouki, the second feature by Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty, in which a shepherd and a university student wish to flee their country, to settle in Paris and improve their living conditions. With this idea in mind, they try to pull off different scams to raise money and finance their project.
This year, the picture celebrates its fiftieth decade since its release. Framed in principle within the logic of a comedy, Diop’s staging is deeply descriptive and attentive to the daily social reality of his country. Part of this dynamic is embodied in the ease of the camera, with the frequent use of hand-held devices and subjective shots, along with an elliptical and fragmented editing that seeks to establish visual relationships, rather than generate a linear continuity in the narrative.
Tribute – 50 years of Touki Bouki
Touki Bouki, by Djibril Diop Mambéty. Senegal. 1973. 95 minutes. DCP.
TRIBUTES SET TO LIVE MUSIC: MAX LINDER AND BUSTER KEATON
As in recent editions of FICValdivia, this year the festival pays homage to two glories of the silent period, which will screen with live musical accompaniment.
The first is a small focus on the French actor and director Max Linder. Hired in 1905 by the powerful impresario Charles Pathé, he would become the first great star and great comedian in French cinema. His histrionic style and clothing would openly influence that of Charles Chaplin, and later, he would begin to direct his own films.
FICValdivia will screen Linder’s shorts Vive la Vie de Garçon (1908), Les Surprises de L’amour (1908), Amour et Fromage (1910), Max Veut Faire du Theatre (1912), Victime du Quinquina (1912), and Max Fait de la Photo (1913), all corresponding to his French period (before his departure to the United States in 1916). They reveal the originality of a sense of humor that was not entirely based on physical solutions, but on dramatic situations resolved through comedy.
The program of silent films with live musical accompaniment will include the 100th anniversary tribute of Our Hospitality, a motion picture starring and directed by Buster Keaton, which focuses on the difficulties of a couple to actualize their love, in the midst of family disputes that unexpectedly separate them. Evidently built on the basis of Romeo and Juliet, it was the second film Keaton directed (in conjunction with John G. Blystone), with complete freedom guaranteed by his good relationship with producer Joseph M. Schnenck at the time. The movie received good reviews and it climaxes with a perilous waterfall rescue scene that anticipates the physical breakthroughs Keaton would soon achieve in The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Tribute to Max Linder
Vive la Vie de Garçon. Max Linder. France. 1908. 13 minutes. Digital.
Les Surprises de l’Amour. Max Linder. France. 1909. 6 minutes. Digital.
Amour et Fromage. Max Linder. France. 1910. 6 minutes. Digital.
Max Veut Faire du Theatre. Max Linder. France. 1912. 12 minutes. Digital.
Victime du Quinquina. Max Linder. France. 1912. 17 minutes. Digital.
Max Fait de la Photo. Max Linder, Lucien Nonguet. France. 1913. 13 minutes. Digital.
Tribute to 100 years of Our Hospitality
Our Hospitality, by Buster Keaton and John G. Blystone. United States. 1923. 74 minutes. Digital.
FICValdivia was founded and is organized by Universidad Austral de Chile; produced by the Valdivia Cultural Center for Film Promotion; convened by the Great City of Valdivia, the Los Ríos Regional Government, and Codeproval; financed by the Audiovisual Fund, the Collaborating Festivals Program of the Audiovisual Arts and Industry Council, and the Support Program for Collaborating Cultural Organizations of the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage.