Day 4

in 12nd Lima Latin American Film Festival

by Natalia Graciela Ames

Interview with Matthias Luthardt (“Ping Pong”)

Each character of German director Matthias Luthardt’s Pingpong shows us different aspects of the human personality. In particular, Luthardt shows his heroes as vulnerable and sensitive persons, even in a deeper way than one could imagine being introduced to them in the beginning.

What does “Ping Pong” mean? What does the word “Pingpong” evokes in you, after seeing the film?

Well, I felt it as a metaphor: every character is a racket and the problems are like the ping pong ball, which passes from person to person, and each one reacts to the shock of the problems, always attacking the rival. Well, yes. Ping Pong is a metaphor for the emotional zigzag. I would say that, nevertheless, it is more aggressive than a simple game, as the consequences seen in the movie. More than anything, this game is between Anna and Paul.

The problems, are they suffered by a lot of families in Germany?

No, luckily not. I just want to say that I know this kind of communication because of what I have observed there. In Peru I have not seen anything like that, neither in any other part of South America.

Who, among the characters, is psychologically sicker?

I would say there is no behavior which can be called pathological. The only thing I do is watching people and their behavior, but I do not give them a diagnosis.

Why did Paul fix the pool? What does it mean?

Paul needed to have a task, otherwise he would have left and the entire story would have ended or at least continued without him. However, he leaves not because he has finished fixing the pool. There are some other reasons which lead him to leave that place.

What does it mean to you to be in this festival?

It is very interesting, since I had not been in South America. One of the most interesting things for me is watching the reactions created by a film as my own in such a different environment as Germany, in this case talking about Peru. I would love to know if you managed to understand the same messages I thought of when I made this movie.

(Interview by Ximena Esqueche)

Fatih Akin, “In July”

Hamburg. Daniel is a young physics teacher. His student do not respect him and his life passes without problems. He meets Juli in a fair. She sells him a ring. From that moment, Daniel’s life changes.

He has bought the ring because it brings him happiness. Juli has made him believe this argument, to conquer him, without knowing that Daniel will find another girl, Melek, and will fall in love with her at first sight. Only, Melek goes away. Daniel does not want to lose her and decides to travel from Hamburg to Istanbul to find her. Juli is decided to give up her plans with Daniel. Standing on the highway, she is going to take the first car. To her surprise, Daniel is driving. Together, they start a long journey which will take them to different landscapes of the European East: the Danube, Budapest, Romania, Turkey. On foot, on wheels, sea or land, anything to reach their objective.

The highway, that infinite space in perspective, appears in different shots and gets the movie along. It is the metaphor for the point of beginning and ending, the road taking you always somewhere. They manage to find it.

In July (Im Juli) is a romantic comedy but it does not use the typical Hollywood formulas of genre movies. The plot is fun and scenes are sincere. In it, we perceive a free and careless air which is transmitted to us: With his partners Daniel learns to dare and leave his strings.

Both characters immerse in a great journey plenty of adventures which allows them to discover love and know their true fate, sometime dictated by oneself, sometimes by random.

In July was directed by Fatih Akin and received prizes in European festivals in 2001, among them for best actor and an audience award.

If life offers problems, why not trying to solve them in a funny way as its protagonists? Can you cross a car over a lake without a bridge or pass the border without documents? Love in the other shore allows surpassing all the obstacles. (Julisa Espinoza)

Eduardo Coutinho, “Playing”

Eduardo Coutinho is a documentary filmmaker who tends to portray and give a voice to marginal characters of Brazilian society. In his beginnings, in the fifties, he was very close to “Cinema Novo”, a movement of Brazilian directors which filmed movies about the crude reality of Brazil. In that time Coutinho filmed fiction, but from the documentary Cabra, marcado para morrer (1985), which won the FIPRESCI award at Berlinale, he has changed to non fiction. Since then, he has made about ten documentaries and has created a filming style.

In his films, it is common to see Coutinho and his filming team working. Besides, the way the director communicates with his characters is very particular: “What makes me different from many other directors is that I do not make movies about the others, but with the others #2, Coutinho has said more than once. An it is true, because in Playing (Jogo de cena, 2007) we can notice a shared work between the character and the director, something that makes the screen becoming a window through which we spy the conversation on some friends.

Playing is a movie where we hear 23 women talking about marriage, family issues, abortion, maternity, love, dreams. All of them have arrived to a theater in Rio de Janeiro after reading an advertisement in the newspaper. The group of women is divided in two: those who have never been in front of the camera and those who are professional and amateur actresses playing the others. Despite this division, it is impossible to establish a limit between reality and fiction, because the actresses also immerse in the documentary and start talking about themselves.

“Coutinho’s cinema is a cinema of the filmed word”, Consuelo Lins wrote in an article about the Brazilian director published in the book “Documentary Cinema in Latin America” (Cátedra, 2003). And it is true, pure and unadorned words reach outstanding levels in this documentary. (Miguel Angel Farfán)