Friday, July 28, 2017

Endless Poetry: The Atypical Universe of Alejandro Jodorowsky

By José Alberto Hermosillo

“Endless Poetry” is a visual feast for the soul, a cinematic masterpiece.
In his latest and most personal film, Alejandro Jodorowsky recounts his adolescent years growing up in Tocopilla, Chile, in the heart of a traditional immigrant Russian-Jewish family with his unique, fascinating, and surrealist style of storytelling.

The poet, writer, filmmaker, philosopher, and accomplished artist Jodorowsky expresses himself in the only possible way he could, through writing.
One of the first and most severe actions any individual must do is to cut off the genealogical tree - an actual act of bravery to become independent.
Endless Poetry, Photo courtesy of Abkco Records/Films
Many of the conversations young Jodorowsky (played by his son Adam Jodorowsky) has with his Alter Ego (played by Alejandro) emanate some extraordinary philosophical concepts materializing in symbolism. 

By taking off the mask imposed by society, the poet has to be bold enough to express his emotions with clarity.

The poems turn into shapes and forms, colors and sound, to integrate the perception of love, greed, spirituality, cowardice, bravery, identity, sexuality, homosexuality, friendship, honesty, fidelity, and desire.

Escorted by other artists, musicians, dancers, contortionists, painters, architects, and other writers, the poet’s journey is always on the quest for spiritual freedom. 
Endless Poetry. Photo courtesy of Abkco Records/Films
Meeting the established Chilean poets Pablo Neruda and Nicanor Parra (Felipe Rios) was a remarkable experience in Jodorowsky’s life that led to a close friendship, especially between Parra and Jodorowsky. Their relationship was similar to the one Emile Zola and Paul Cezanne had centuries back, depicted in Daniele Thomson’s French biopic “Cezanne et moi.”

In this film, the music score is haunting. The composer is Alejandro’s son, Adam Jodorowsky, who also plays the leading role in this and many of his father’s projects, like in “The Dance of Reality” (2013) and in “Santa Sangre” (1989) as well.

Alejandro’s vivid imagination is influenced by his Chilean heritage and the cultures of the countries he lived in - Mexico, France, and Spain. His Jewish, Russian, and Latin roots blend in, reflecting a high grade of sophistication in his Corpus de Obra (body of work).
The filmmaking technique of Jodorowsky is exceptional, comparable with the paintings of the Colombian artist Botero or the Mexican muralist José Chavez Morado.

“Shut-up! Poets don’t give explanations.” Alejandro shouts out loud, making a powerful statement against self-censorship.

Jodorowsky is not afraid to open his soul to the nakedness of the body. In writing, those inhibited thoughts must go. Remember, poetry is food for the soul.

The poet is always looking for his own identity.

A muse is essential for the poet’s inspiration. In Jodorowsky’s case, she was the mature woman who shaped his life into adulthood. She was the one who seduced him to his first sexual experience and, furthermore, into an eye-opener fetishist ritual and other perversions.
Endless Poetry. Photo courtesy of Abkco Records/Films
The need for attention and the dependency on affection staggered his life, but he didn’t fall over until she broke his heart. She was also the same unconventional woman who inspired Nicanor Parra’s poems.

After a fire, desolation is all that is left. The only badge an artist can carry is the intellect they have inside - hate, jealousy, and guilt. But emptiness brings depression. Suicide is a constant thought for many artists who have not succeeded.

Other artists inspired love and respect. Artists help to discover the beauty in life. Artists can turn the music up and start the party with joy and happiness. The excess of freedom can turn into an act of anarchy.

Finding legitimacy in the tarot is not an esoteric act of sorcery or empirical labor of witchcraft; it could also bring hope to the artistic community.

Overindulgence brings remorse. With faith, artists must confess all their sins, and nothing is irreverent by finding comfort within a religious conviction.

A poet can get the “Rock Star treatment” from friends, fans, and strangers. After all, poetry is an illusion, and life is a game.
Endless Poetry. Photo courtesy of Abkco Records/Films
The circus is another critical component in Jodorowsky’s films. In the chaos, we can find elements of illusion and hypnotic colors. The implausible animals are becoming part of the story as well. 

Let’s not forget about the multi-faceted clowns who awaken some destructive emotions in the audience - anxiety could confront happiness and amusement.

The circus has the unique sense of an eternal “fiesta” that keeps everybody’s spirit alive.

At the end of the 1960s, the world’s political arena was full of paranoia - “The Cold War was still cold,” Alejandro remembers.

The repression of the artists and intellectuals by the Chilean government was constant.

Burning the materialistic elements of his childhood in his parents’ house represents a painful goodbye to his past – another act of liberation to hail a brighter future ahead.
Endless Poetry. Photo courtesy of Abkco Records/Films
The glorious moment of the film arrives with a colossal Carnival. In there, hundreds of dazzling Red Devils and White Skeletons dance a monumental cacophony of color and rhythm - the infectious Latin beat coming from the catchy cumbia song makes everybody feel like dancing.

Then, a profound reflection unfolds when Jodorowsky states, “I can’t change the world, but I can start changing myself - I will burn the bridges down.”

Due to the political anticlimax in Chile, Jodorowsky makes a painful decision to say “Adios” to the people he loves and leave the country by taking a boat on a journey to eternal exile. 

Endless Poetry. Photo courtesy of Abkco Records/Films

The nostalgic farewell moment comes from the traditional goodbye song “La barca de oro/The Golden Boat.” 

Having Paris in mind, destiny will take him somewhere else. For instance, Mexico was the country that helped him start his career as a filmmaker. By keeping that location in mind, he may continue the trilogy he began with, “The Dance of Reality.”

Jodorowsky’s recurrent themes are universal. His unique style of filmmaking has been constant since his controversial first work, “Fando and Lis,” and stayed prevalent through “El Topo,” “The Holy Mountain,” and “Santa Sangre.”

“Endless Poetry” can compare to other works of fantasy, surrealism, and existentialism. For instance: Julie Taymor’s “Titus” (1999) and “Frida” (2002). Also Alejandro G. Iñarritu’s Best Picture Oscar winner “Birdman” (2014). The Indian director Tarsem Singh with his fabulous work “The Fall” (2006), Peter Greenaway’s “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” (2015), and the French production “Slak Bay” (2016), directed by Bruno Dumont. 

It is worth mentioning Terrence Malic’s “The Tree of Life” (2012) and “Knight of Cups” (2015); Jaco Van Dormael’s “Mr. Nobody” (2013), and the Polish high-spirited masterpiece “Field of Dogs/Onirica” by Lech Majewski (2014). Those eccentric titles follow a pattern of enormous philosophical concepts that look to explain the meaning of life in movies.

Jodorowsky’s style reflected in “Endless Poetry” could be related to the works of other great masters of cinema like Pasolini, Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini, or even David Lynch. The truth is, “Endless Poetry” is a very Jodorowsky film in all senses.

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Copyright © 2017 Festival in LA 

Monday, July 24, 2017


By José Alberto Hermosillo
The PLATINO AWARDS were handed to the best of the Ibero-American film productions in an exquisite gala celebrated Saturday night in Madrid, Spain.

Eugenio Derbez ("Instructions Not Included") jokes about winning Platino at an LA press conference in 2015.
File Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2017 FESTIVAL IN LA
The recipients of the Platino Awards are from Spain, Brazil, the USA, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and the rest of Ibero-America. They represent the richness of the Latino culture in the world.

The legendary personalities in the Latino Film Industry who won an award during the exciting evening were: Pedro Almodovar, Sonia Braga, Edward James Olmos, Eugenio Caballero, and the music composer Alberto Iglesias.
The Platino Award  Ceremony © 2017 Platino Awards
The Spanish-Argentinean co-production “The Distinguished Citizen/El Ciudadano Ilustre,” directed by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, received the Platino Award for Best Ibero-American Film and two other prestigious awards.
For the first time, a film in the English language was considered for the awards, “A Monster Calls.” A film made by the Spanish visionary director J.A. Bayona (“The Impossible,” “The Orphanage,” and in post-production “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”).
"A Monster Calls" production team and their Platino Award © 2017 Platino Awards.
The British-Spanish-American co-production took home four technical awards, including Best Production Design for Mexican-born Oscar winner Eugenio Caballero (“Pan’s Labyrinth/El laberinto del Fauno”).
 Platino Award  Ceremony © 2017 Platino Awards
The fourth edition of the Platino Awards represented 23 countries that submitted their films for consideration. The Spanish productions and co-productions wiped out the prizes in almost every category.


The Platino Award Winners © 2017 Platino Awards

Best Ibero-American Film: “The Distinguished Citizen/El Ciudadano Ilustre,” Argentina-Spain.
Pedro Almodovar and his Platino Award © 2017 Platino Awards
Best Director: Pedro Almodovar, for Julieta.”
 Oscar Martinez and his Platino Award © 2017 Platino Awards
Best Leading Actor: Oscar Martínez, for “The Distinguished Citizen/El Ciudadano Ilustre,” Argentina-Spain.
Sonia Braga and her Platino Award © 2017 Platino Awards
Best Leading Actress: Sonia Braga, for “Aquarius,” Brazil.

Best Screenplay: Andrés Duprat, for “The Distinguished Citizen,” Argentina-Spain.
Best Editing: Jaume Marti and Bernat Villaplana, for “A Monster Calls.”
Best Production Design: Eugenio Caballero, for “A Monster Calls.”
Best Cinematography: Oscar Faura, for “A Monster Calls.”
Best Sound: A Monster Calls.”
Best Original Score: Alberto Iglesias, for “Julieta,” Spain.
Best Animated Film“Birdboy: The Forgotten Children/Psiconautas Los Niños Olvidados,” directed by Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero, Spain.
"Born in Syria" Best Documentary:, directed by Hernán Zin. © 2017 Platino Awards
Best Documentary Film: “Born in Syria/Nacido en Siria,” directed by Hernán Zin, Denmark-Spain. 
Best Debut Film: Desde allá/From Afar,” directed by Lorenzo Vigas, Venezuela/Mexico.

The PLATINO for Education in Cinema Values: Esteban,” directed by Jonal Cosculluela, Spain-Cuba.
Best TV Mini-Series and Best Ibero-American T.V. Series: Cuatro estaciones en la Habana,” starring Jorge Perugorría and Juana Acosta, Spain-Cuba. 
Lifetime Achievement Award: Edward James Olmos
 © 2017 Platino Awards
The Lifetime Achievement Award: Edward James Olmos. 

Hosted by Spanish comedian Carlos Latre and Uruguayan actress and singer Natalia Oreiro, the Platino gala was broadcast to over 80 million homes with the collaboration of 17 television and cable stations.

We hope that shortly more categories could be added - such as Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress, best original song, short live-action short animated film, and best technological achievement.

To reach a bigger audience, it will be helpful to host screenings of some of the nominated films (best picture, documentaries, and animations) in selected cities and invite the audience of some of the participant countries just to assist in the much-needed distribution of such worthy films.

The Platino Award Ceremony announcing in Madrid that Mexico will be hosting the next Award Ceremony © 2017 Platino Awards

The last big announcement of the night was given at the end; the following hosting city of the Platino Awards will be Cancun, Mexico, one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations.

Filmmakers and film lovers will meet again for the fifth time in the Mayan Rivier in the summer of 2018 to honor the best works of Ibero-America.