“I Want a Superior Movie Offer than the One in Paris”
Edgar Saba, director of the Festival of Lima, reflects briefly on his own role and on the role of film festivals.
We are already in the twelfth edition of the festival. What have been the main changes and improvements in the organization and the presentation of movies?
Well, in the first place, the selection of films is of the best quality possible. The festival is dedicated to particular filmmakers, and it’s for a cultured audience. The audience has been educated over the years, it feels the pleasure of another cinema, that is how I would call it. The other cinema is an European cinema, and a cinema talked in Spanish. In earlier editions, we had an audience award ‘only’, but we realized that it was important to have an official jury also. But with the audience voting and knowing that its vote is being respected, it feels that this is its festival. It’s a festival for Peruvians.
During the last years, how was the assistance of the audience?
It has grown a lot. We are talking about one hundred thousand viewers in nine or ten days. In fact, our interest is to show a panorama. A panorama of the best recent Latin American cinema. The audience has the opportunity to see the films before they are even released in their own countries. As well, we show a panorama of different trends, not only of what we could call a young avant-garde. That’s the way to empower Latin American cinema. I would even wish to have these hundred films during the whole year, than at a film festival of ten days.
Do you think Peruvian filmmakers are influenced by Latin American cinema?
No. Latin American cinema right now is in the process of arising above the boom of Latin American literature. The beginning is marked by Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo) by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (Cuba, 1968). Before that, there were important documentaries. The problem of Latin American cinema has been to show Latin American postcards, while now a personal cinema is being created. If I want to tell a love story, I tell it, also in Latin America. I do not have to sell Latin American misery for the European public and buyers.
(Interview by Flor Preciado)
Mario Vargas Llosa and Cinema: From Life to Screen
The awarded and recognized Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa (borin in Arequipa in 1936) is a member of the Peruvian Academy of Language and of the International PEN Club, which gathers the best writers of the world. In 1995, he won the Cervantes Award, the highest prize for literature in Spanish language. His novels have inspired several filmmakers and that is why the 12th Festival of Lima has prepared a homage to him through the exhibition “Mario Vargas Llosa, La libertad y la vida” (Freedom and Life).
Mario Vargas Llosa learned to read when he was five years old. His parents were not together, and he lived with his mother and the Llosa family during all his childhood. His favorite toy was: books. Therefore, in a Christmas letter, he asked Santa Claus to bring him books. Next day, he woke up, his bed being covered by novels, which he afterwards devoured. Later on, in his adolescence, he met his father, which he believed dead, and went to live with him.
If Mario had never met his father, we would have missed to see The City and the Dogs (Ciudad y los perros, 1985) by Peruvian director Francisco Lombardi, which was based on the novel by Vargas Llosa. His father was an authoritarian man and he always opposed to the idea of his son becoming a writer. Thus, he sent him to a military school. In the film, the families sent their sons to the military life so that they become ‘men’ and not ‘queers’. Reading poetries or writing novels, in the sexist Latin American society, especially in past times, was not a dignifying career for a man, and it had to be corrected. In the movie The City and the Dogs young students are abused and learn to live a hard life by shooting with guns.
In the exhibition a part of the room where Mario slept in school is recreated, as it was described in the book and taken to the screen. This image, as many other scenes and characters from movies, are fragments of the life of Vargas Llosa, who lived these experiences. This makes us think that cinema can be life itself, and that, vice versa, the richness of our daily stories can be found on the big screen. (Julisa Espinoza)