Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sao Paulo International Film Festival and Road Show

Hillbilly At The Sao Paulo Film Festival Edition: 
Day One

     Ana and I went to the SP Film Festival over the weekend to try and cram as many films into our eye holes as possible. We had to coordinate so that we crammed as many titles that also had English subtitles in because my Portuguese is at the fetal grade level.

     I always do my movie reviews on another blog, so if you want to know what I thought of the movies we watched you need to go to my other blog A Brief History in Bullshit.

     I have always dreamed of going to a film festival ever since I was a little film watching kid. I'd hear on TV about some Film Festival somewhere around the world and you'd see all the stars lining up but you'd also see these young upcoming directors who were just trying to get their film out in front of some people. Or I'd hear about a festival that was just showing a certain actors or directors work, like a Woody Allen Festival or Schwarzenegger Fest and you could get tickets to see as many as their films as your body could hold. I'd hear about these things but I knew I'd never experience it because I live in BFE, KY, USA. Where do these things happen in the United States, primarily in LA and NY. What do you get in the "Heartland", fucking 600 showings of The Waterboy or G.I. Joe and three days blink and it is gone showing of a Woody Allen movie. Owensboro, KY had three theaters when I was a kid now they have the one multiplex that only shows Huge Features and all the rest have been converted to churches. Personally I'd rather watch a movie than listen to some jive ass preacher talk about heaven and hell but I understand that there is a lot more money in God and judging what other people are wearing on Sunday than in movies. 

     Ana and I arrived in Sao Paulo just knowing that the weather service must have gotten it right this time around. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me a third time and you really should just give up trying to predict the weather because you suck. Well, they suck. The predictions which is what they shall forever now be called because a charlatan predicts a scientist forecasts was for a low of 63F and the high of 73F. Nope, it had to be in the mid 80s at least which is a little different from a nice cool 70 believe me. Damn you, damn you to hell. So we checked into our hotel room with bags full of long sleeve shirts and sweaters just knowing that it was going to be cool all weekend. Foiled again.

      The first movie that we watched was The Silence which you can read more about here on my other blog.

     After the movie we walked around Paulista Ave some then went back to the room to plan for the rest of the night. Ana has been dying to go to a posh place with a view of everything in the city but the weather men had actually gotten the cloudy part of their prediction right unfortunately they got the rain part wrong because there wasn't a rain drop in the sky that night. She was hoping to see a sunset but the weather blocked out the sun so we thought we would try and catch another movie. I won the coin toss so we tried to make it across town to the William S Burroughs documentary that was playing in the Sao Paulo Cultural Center.
    After we almost walked a block in the wrong direction after exiting the Subway Station (I am not allowed to say who was in the lead at this time but it wasn't me) we arrived to see a huge line. Our hearts sank, Ana wondered if this was the ticket line. I was sent ahead to scout out what the deal was and I found that this was just the line to get into the theater. Seeing that my Portuguese is still at the level of small child Ana went to the ticket window to inquire about tickets. The woman told her that all three showings sold out within 15 minutes of becoming available. After I heard this and walked back along side the line it made more sense to me, lots of aging hipsters and young nerdy bohemian types were in the line. Another way of saying that is a whole lot of readers were in that line and I'm not talking about Twilight readers either.

    It all worked out in the end besides the fact of not seeing old Bill Burroughs. We had to book across town either way to catch Wim Wenders giving a lecture on the movies of his life. It was 20 subway stops plus a walk up hill both ways to get to that venue and home again but it was well worth it. We arrived at the Cinemateca to an empty hall with two book stalls set up that were being packed away. At one stood the 100 year old former storyboard artist for Akira Kurosawa, setting against a wall was the Film Festival Organizer and also in the room was his girlfriend who was also an organizer. The problem was of course that there were 200 seats available to see Director Wim Wenders give his lecture but all those seats had been sold to watch the movie Wings of Desire. Even though the film guide said that the lecture was free to anyone that showed up  it was first come, first serve when it came to seating and all the seats had an ass parked in them at the moment.
     So in an act of bravery and desperation Ana went up to the female organizer and gave her our sad tale of walking uphill for 20km to get there and that I was an American who was unfrozen by scientist and was unused to the Brazilian scary modern ways. I ran out of gas. I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts.
    After all that she had to let us in at least to stand in the back which so agreed to do if there weren't any seats left. So we were left to our own devices while the movie was still running, a few more people were showing up and then this tall lanky fellow with long curly hair showed up with a gorgeous blonde. Ana grabbed my arm and whispered that's him, that is Wim Wenders. He walked past us a few times, girl in tow as we stood there like schoolgirls mumbling. I kept teasing Ana that I was going to go all paparazzi on him and she kept punching my arm and telling me that no, I wasn't. Which made it even more fun to do when he was standing directly behind her in the open area.
    He must have wondered around the place for 10 minutes, walking to the outside courtyard and farting around I guess waiting for his movie to be over so he could go and make his lecture and get the hell out of there. Finally after he walked past us for the 11th time Ana turns to me and says, if he walks past one more time I'm going to ask for a photo, do you think that would be all right. I said I guess what else does he have to do right now but glad hand. So on his 12th lap she snatched his arm and started what I can only say was nervous bantering. "Big fan of your work... appreciate your films...thank you for coming here...can I please take a photo with you..." In very calm, quiet English with a German accent he replied "Do you have a photographer". "Yes" she replied. "Does he have a flash". "Yea" I replied. "Then you may take the picture" and bam that is how I got a photo of Ana with Wim Wenders.

Ana and Wim

     The lecture was great he was really good natured and funny through out and like most cinema buff he couldn't stop. He would say this is the last film that I am going to talk about then he would go on and talk about three other films that he thought were important to him. Earlier in the night I bought a little notebook and pen to carry around with me at the bookstore because I didn't have my phone which I usually use to keep notes. Ana borrowed it and wrote all the films he discussed as did a few other film students in the crowd. He must have talked for at least an hour, quite a few people left in the middle but I just assumed it was because they didn't offer a translation to what he was saying. 
     We barely made it back to our Subway Stop in time because they close the station every night for a few hours to do maintenance and things of the like. As we stepped of at the stop on Paulista the announcement started about how the station would be closing in 3 minutes. Get your shit and get out. We got off the escalator just as they were locking up the turnstiles. If we had just been ten more minutes at the Cinemateca we would have been screwed because cabs like cops are hard to find when you need one. 

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