Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day Four - Polvos Azules

Its fair to say that, as a Latin American filmmaker, I very much cherish the world of pirated movies in poor Spanish speaking neighbourhoods. An instant access to a world of cinema and television that would have never reached the DVD players of these folks is an art form that deserves its own merit. If it wasn't for these hard working vendors who hustle like no other, how could these people have access to this world of independent and foreign cinema? The truth is that they wouldn't. The day will come when I am randomly walking around in a market within the ruins of a Latin America city like La Paz, Quito or Buenos Aires and randomly spot a copy of one of my films and at that moment I'll know - I've made it.
Known amongst various international filmmaker circles, Lima has one of the most respected kiosks in Latin America of pirated independent and foreign cinema, located en el barrio de Polvos Azules. Cesar and his store/stand "Mundo Trasho" (Local 18 / Stand 17) has been providing pirated DVDs of the highest caliber to the citizens of Lima for years. During my six days in Lima I visited Cesar not once but twice for an afternoon of searching and flipping through hundreds of foreign and independent titles. Lets not forget that the trek from where I was staying to the beautifully textured neighbourhood of Polvos Azules can take up to forty five minutes in taxi, depending on the traffic.
It was as impressive as I've heard people speak about it. The titles he had in stock were shocking. One that stands out is, having had its Canadian theatrical release two months agao, an original DVD of Guy Madden's new film "Keyhole." Also a fully pimped out DVD box with menus of both Denis Cote's "Bestiaire" and "Curling," not to mention six titles of films that were actually playing the film festival where I was presenting El Huaso. Three of six titles were autographed by the actors and directors that have made the pilgrimage throughout the eleven days of the festival to Polvos Azules. How does he get all of these titles? His dead pan face reaction when I ask the question is enough to say that the provider's identity is a secret that will die with him. When I first heard about Cesar and "Muncho Trasho", I was at an outdoor screening in Montreal through Los Ășltimos Cristeros director Matias Meyes. One of the things he mentioned that was really common were filmmakers going there with their films and making a five for one trade for other titles. Now because one of my feature distributors may read this, I'm not going to mention how in the world that at during my second visit to this wonderful mecca that I found a copy of El Huaso with a picture of the film's poster, standing tall in the festival section. What I can say is that my heart fills with warmth with the idea of some kid walking up to the stand and asking Cesar "¿Tienes El Huaso?"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day One - Coming Home

It's overwhelming arriving here, Chile and Peru in a single day. Not because of the 15 hours of flying or the two layovers totally almost 10 hours. It's not the nerves that consistently stay present because the very idea of bringing this film to Latin America has me sporadically tearing up with love, pain or confusion. I have this continent running deep inside me and arriving here only confirms it. Every time I step off a plane and touch Latin American soil, I'm confronted with my other half. A half that only perks up in small spurts when I'm not here. Eating an expensive but decent 'completo' at la Chilenta in Montreal after an hour osteopathic treatment and even hearing pockets of spanish being momentarily spoken in random public places gives me the fix that I need. The simple sounds and smells that waft, weaving in and out of my senses, I always smile and enjoy these moments, always hoping they never end. But they do.
Today I wait in a line at a Santiago subway station to get my first metro ticket. During this very long afternoon layover, I eventually arrive at my cousin's house in a wealthy part of the city. His lovely maid prepares us a plate of 'charquican' and I politely thank her after ever course. The homemade flan she made tastes like poetry. With every piece of conversation my smile grew and I felt warmer.  On our way to the airport  to catch my next flight, this time to Lima, the streets seemed empty. With plenty of time to watch some sunday night HBO and AMC television, I waited at my gate with my shoes off very content. After boarding we spent four hours in the air and almost two hours in a terrible line at Peruvian immigration because of their lack of organization. After completing a task of incredibly patience I was whisked away through a very large crowded airport into a very large crowded vehicle. Off to my hotel. spinning through the city, I realize how many horribly contrasting worlds exist not just in Lima but every Latin American capital city I've ever experienced. With no help from the door men because of my 'no money over here' apparel selection, I juggle my belongings across the lobby. After checking I strangely step into the partially gold plated 'ascensor' in a semi-glazed sleepy state. I catch in the corner of my eye a group of men and women. They ignore me while attempting to hide their roots under a blend of make-up and expensive suits. I arrive at my room and collapse onto my king size bed with exhaustion. This bed is a cloud. Staring at the ceiling, despite the incredible apathy and contrasting states of wealth, I realize how much I still love this continent in the same way that I continue to love my father. A man that was sick and too stubborn to get better. Too set in his ways to look at his errors… but he was glorious. Those he touched flowed deep. I was lucky enough to have a father that sacrificed himself for his family. But to such a degree that he was willing to take his own life. He fell on his sword and I wish he hadn't. But I do love the fight he had in him. I remember him in the same way that I recall my formative years growing up on a small street in Quillota, Chile. They all merge together now, as one vivid memory. I smile with thoughts of pots and pans at 8pm while my mother is trying to put me to sleep. Laying in bed at this hotel, moments race through my head at the last 24 hours. All that lingers are small evidential moments of how this continent is still recovering from its past, still too proud and ashamed to admit it. 

Even though he or it is partially resting, the past feels very present.