FREE SATURDAY 1 MARCH THE OFFICIAL GFF DAILY GUIDE
It’s Grim Up North America Diego Quemada-Díez discusses the social issues and influences behind his new film The Golden Dream
t’s a couple of days after the Goyas, Spain’s national film awards, and Mexican director Diego QuemadaDíez is in a downbeat mood. His first feature film, The Golden Dream, nominated at this year’s ceremony, walked away empty handed. “It’s disappointing a little bit,” he says down the line from Barcelona. “We were nominated for best Latin American film, and we didn’t do any promotion. It’s like the Oscars: you need to campaign with the people from the academy and send them DVDs and call them and send them letters, and blah blah blah...” Maybe it’s for the best. His mantelpiece must be groaning under the weight of the silverware that’s garlanded The Golden Dream so far: at the last count it had won 42 festival prizes, including the A Certain Talent honour at Cannes, which was shared between the director and his film’s young ensemble cast. Quemada-Díez and his brilliant debut are certainly deserving of the accolades. The film follows a group of Guatemalan teens travelling north, chasing the American dream. It’s a fiction, based on reality and filmed with the veracity of documentary. Quemada-Díez calls The Golden Dream a “collective testimony,” with its narrative formed from interviews with over 600 migrants who have made their way to the States in search of a better life. “My idea was to talk about migration, and to talk about the issue of migration through the conflict of two kids,” Quemada-Díez explains. The two kids in question are Juan (Brandon López) and Chauk (Rodolfo Domínguez), and the clash between these two characters represents the territorial and ideological tensions at play in the Central American
nations between the indigenous and Western cultures. “[Juan] believes in the Western values and believes in the American Dream – he’s very selfish and individualistic.” On Juan’s journey north with his girlfriend Sara (Karen Martínez), he meets Chauk, who’s indigenous. “[Chauk] believes in a different cosmogony and has a different set of values: he can share, has a morally grounded relationship to the earth, and has more feeling for things.” Like all good road movies, the journey the group takes isn’t just literal. “I provoke a transformation of the selfish individual, this Westernised kid – by the end he arrives and he’s another person.” If this description suggests a warm and fuzzy slushfest about personal growth, you’d be mistaken. The Golden Dream’s heart-stopping power comes from its complete lack of sentimentality. This is demonstrated in the way in which Quemada-Díez refuses to reach for melodrama during the life-or-death situations that the characters encounter on the road. “What I have found myself in life is that when somebody passes away there is no arguing,” he says. “There’s nothing to say or do, it just happens, and when it does happen you just have to face it and move on.” This attitude was also shared by the migrants Quemada-Díez interviewed. “They help each other during the journey, but they have some kind of unspoken agreement where if something happens they will continue,” he explains. “The objective is to arrive in the United States – it is more important than what happens to their companions.” The 45-year-old has worked his way up in the film business, learning the ropes as part of the camera team of films by such luminaries of cinema
Interview: Jamie Dunn as Alejandro González Iñárritu (on 21 Grams), Tony Scott (on Man on Fire) and Oliver Stone (on Any Given Sunday). When asked which filmmaker has most influenced him as a director, however, Quemada-Díez doesn’t hesitate for a second: Ken Loach. “I worked in three movies with him [Land and Freedom, Carla’s Song, Bread and Roses],” he says, “and the most important thing I learned, and a method I applied in the movie, was his of shooting in chronological order, the actors not knowing the story, and actors discovering what was going to happen next as we were filming.” Other techniques he borrows from Loach include using non-professional actors (“there is a power that non-actors have that an actor will never be able to match”) and working from a deeply human point-of-view. This is not to say Quemada-Díez is slavishly aping his mentor. The Golden Dream diverges from our great social-realist director’s style in one respect: it tells as much of its story though its painterly visuals as it does though its authentic performances and dialogue. This is most acutely evident in QuemadaDíez’s poetic use of the landscape of Central America. “There are a lot of ruins in the film,” he says. “I like to talk about this society in ruins, not only in Mexico now that it’s in war, but also I wanted to talk about this industrial, consumerist society that so destructive to the earth. It’s a model that is condemned to collapse.” 1 Mar, Cineworld, 6pm 2 Mar, Cineworld, 1.15pm
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Reviews Mistaken for Strangers
Director: Tom Berninger Starring: Tom Berninger, Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Bryan Devendorf, Scott Devendorf
On the surface, Mistaken for Strangers would seem to be a standard tour rockumentary, in this case following Ohio indie outfit The National during the mainstream breakthrough brought about by their 2010 album, High Violet. Under the lead of Tom Berninger, the immature metalhead brother of the band’s frontman Matt, what one actually gets with this hugely entertaining film is a candid look into sibling strife, creative crossroads, responsibility, and the very nature of the artistic process. Basically, don’t expect a film about The National.
Tom was invited to be a roadie during a year-long tour and decided it was the perfect opportunity to make a documentary about the band, only for the completely haphazard nature of his pursuit to drive Matt and the job opportunity away. What he crafts out of the experience with the final, metatextual version of this film is touching and actually quite smart in its own unique ways. In contrast to its ostensible subject’s music – rooted in tension, fear and anxiety – it’s also frequently hilarious. [Josh Slater-Williams]
Mistaken for Strangers
Director: William Friedkin Starring: Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou, Ramon Bieri David Ajala
A financial flop lost in the Star Wars summer of 1977, William Friedkin’s Sorcerer, long plagued by legal problems regarding distribution in its complete form, has now undergone a stunning restoration overseen by the director himself. Based on the same novel as the French classic The Wages of Fear, it concerns four fugitives whose desperation has brought them to an oil-drilling work camp in South America, thanks to crimes of assassination, terrorism, bank fraud and robbery. When offered enough money to escape their situation, they take on the life-threatening job of transporting crates of temperamental nitrogylcerin by truck across a nightmarish jungle. While its extended prologue scenes regarding each fugitive perhaps go on a bit too long, early pacing concerns are abandoned for the visceral, elemental second hour. Breathtaking in its cinematography, production design and sound work, Sorcerer is a worthy contender for the film with the most suspenseful set-pieces in Hollywood history – if such an arbitrary title existed. Though ostensibly a remake, Friedkin’s favourite of his own films marches to its own beat and is ripe for rediscovery. [Josh Slater-Williams]
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Director: Asghar Farhadi Starring: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis
After experiencing the near-perfect construction of Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning A Separation and his belatedly released About Elly, one might be inclined to complain that the director’s narrative string-pulling is a little too evident in The Past. Certainly, there is a little clunkiness about the climactic twists, but such concerns only arise after the credits have finished rolling and the film has released us from its grip, and they quickly seem
irrelevant against the bigger picture of what Farhadi is striving for here. He has created another wholly absorbing examination of secrets and lies, littering his screenplay with revelations that explode like depth charges, and deftly shifting our sympathies and our perception of each character as each new piece of information comes to light. There is no judgement in Farhadi’s approach, just boundless compassion and curiosity
as he observes these decent, flawed people trying to negotiate morally complex and emotionally fraught situations. The Past is clearly the work of a master dramatist, and precious few filmmakers in world cinema are currently operating at Farhadi’s level. [Philip Concannon] 1 Mar, Cineworld, 6.15pm 2 Mar, Cineworld, 3.30pm
The horror genre has long been plagued by issues of censorship. Director Jake West exhumes its history in his latest film
Half of a Yellow Sun
GFT, 7.45pm Adapted from the Orange Prize-winning novel, this film sees the plight of two sisters mirroring the chaos and conflict of Nigeria’s struggle for independence. Writer-director Biyi Bandele and producer Andrea Calderwood will be on-hand to discuss how they put the story on screen.
Interview: Chris Fyvie
Half of a Yellow Sun
The Evil Dead
t encourages us to understand history, and to see the kind of things that happen with moral panics,” says director Jake West of his new documentary, Video Nasties: Draconian Days, which covers the passing of the notorious Video Recordings Act of 1984 and the heavy-handed tenure of James Ferman as director of the BBFC. It was a period that must be almost unfathomable for a generation of genre fans now able to access any and all uncut material at the click of a mouse, where films were arbitrarily subjected to the scissor treatment by overzealous bastions of perceived good taste. “You had a huge amount of censorship going on, and often there was nothing clear from the BBFC as to what their policies were or why they were doing this; they were kind of making it up as they went along.” The film serves as a sort-of sequel to West and producer Marc Morris’s earlier doc, Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape, which looked at the birth of video in the UK and the initial outcry caused by the availability for home viewing of titles such as Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. The aftermath of this, the Video Recordings Act, gave new power to the BBFC, a body previously concerned only with the broad certification of titles. “They now had statutory responsibility for cutting video. That really affected the way that video was seen in the UK and is probably the time that censorship was at its most draconian, certainly in terms of horror films in that period.” West, a horror filmmaker himself with titles such as Doghouse and Evil Aliens, interviews contemporaries such as Neil Marshall and Chris Smith, but also takes testimony from those involved in the governance of film; the unelected moral arbiters. “We had some very interesting interviews with people at the BBFC, particularly Carol Topolsky, who was there during that period then eventually sacked by James Ferman.” Though reluctant to go into further detail as to what those processes actually were, or the intrigue surrounding Topolsky’s dismissal (“I THESKINNY.CO.UK/CINESKINNY
think you need to watch the documentary! That would be like giving away a plot spoiler!”), West speaks enthusiastically about the contribution of those working under Ferman at the time. “Carol was very open,” he says. “She was actually a psychoanalytic psychologist, so she’s got a very interesting take on stuff and was involved with rape crisis centres. She reflects very strongly on a lot of the problem areas for censorship, like sexual violence, and offers fascinating insight.” As well as the minutiae of the system, the effect this censorship had on horror fans and the culture surrounding the material is also a key facet of the documentary. There is definite nostalgia to West’s recounting of that era. “I was a teenager in the 80s, I grew-up with the Video Nasties – trying to get hold of them and watch them,” he recalls. “It could take us years and years to find a film that we were interested in, and certainly that created the whole horror scene as it was, and what’s missing now, I think; the sense of camaraderie.” Being a child of that period certainly shaped West’s own career, too. “I was very influenced by them in terms of wanting to make gory, fun horror movies, because we felt like there was some kind of danger or subversive feel to that material when we were growing-up.” This subversion and the historical symbiosis of politics and horror cinema is something I am interested to get West’s take on. Whereas mainstream US and UK horror from the late 60s to the early 80s was steeped in political allegory, that seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent times. The French are now seen by many as the flag-bearers of socially conscious shockers; the work of, for example, Pascal Laugier and Xavier Gens – the latter a segment director on horror compendium The ABCs of Death, along with West – push back at the boundaries while also addressing important issues. “I really like their films,” says West. “Stuff like Martyrs, particularly, is dealing with some strong, transgressive imagery, but also doing that within
the framework of good storytelling. Using extreme imagery you can create a metaphor or make a point that maybe you couldn’t make successfully in another genre, so it’s always exciting, horror, because of that side to it.”
“The BBFC... were kind of making it up as they went along.” Jake West In light of this new leaning towards the extreme, does West see any possibility of a return to those dark days of censorship? Ferman’s resignation in 1999, where Draconian Days takes us up to, signalled a change in policy. “After that point the BBFC became a lot more open and a lot more transparent, so censorship and all of the things that had been blocked started to be released; the landscape certainly changed.” Though there have been isolated cases in recent years – work such as A Serbian Film, The Bunny Game and The Human Centipede 2 all caused varying degrees of uproar – there is little evidence to suggest that more blanket policy on transgressive content is imminent. “The Video Recordings Act still exists,” explains West, “and there’s a lot of power within it that could be imposed if they wanted to, which, fortunately, [they don’t] at the moment.” Is this a comfort or a warning? There’s reassurance in an outmoded permission slip being ignored by the classification board, but there is a hint of dread in its continuing existence, ready to be taken-up should another cultural panic grip. If that ever happens, who knows how those mouseclickers may cope? 1 Mar, GFT, 11am
You’ll Be A Man
GFT, 6pm Leo is a child wise beyond his years. Theo is an adult who refuses to grow up. When they meet the stage is set for a surprising but charming friendship. Newcomer Jules Sagot, who plays Theo, will attend this UK Premiere before heading down to Kelvingrove Park to play on the swings.
Admiral Fallow: We Are Ten
Fruitmarket, 8pm In the same year that GFF turns ten, Admiral Fallow celebrate a decade of their unique orchestral indie. With bespoke content from emerging UK filmmakers and a set from the band accompanied by images from Glasgow’s rich cinematic history, this party certainly won’t lie empty for long. Yes, that’s a farming joke.
Benny & Jolene
Cineworld, 3.30pm The story of an indie-folk duo whose management tell them to make their music a little more sexy. After all, who wouldn’t buy tickets for a concert helmed by Boob Dylan? The Lubeineers? Mumford & Bums?!
Benny & Jolene
Living is Easy with Eyes Closed
Cineworld, 8.30 This coming of age story about a Beatles fan in Franco-era Spain is surely a must-see for fans of Carlos Saura, Victor Erice or John Lennon. A note, however: don’t take the title literally. We tried it, it isn’t.
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What’s new online? Festival Blog
In his fourth write-up, GFF diarist Sean Welsh talks The Heart of Bruno Wizard, Dark Blood and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality, which he hopes will get “the full, unedited release it deserves.” tinyurl.com/FestBlog4
The Golden Dream
The Huffington Post
As some of The CineSkinny team could possibly considered to be geeks, Matthew Turner’s hugely positive review of this comedy makes us wish we’d seen it ourselves.
The gigantic news website covers the festival with an extensive blog, picking out the highlights from this year’s crop and encouraging everyone to set time aside for GFF15. Hear, hear.
BBC Radio Scotland
Screendaily’s interview with the Black Angel director reveals the fascinating origin behind the idea for the film, involving a near-death experience and a poster of Scotland The Heart of Bruno Wizard
The Golden Dream
Tag your tweets #CINESKINNY! You may end up featured here... which would be nice @kariebookish
Papuzsa is not only the best film I’ve seen @glasgowfilmfest it maybe one of the best films I’ve ever seen! #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
The ever effervescent Janice Forsyth interviews Terry Gilliam, while critics tackle The Book Thief and Under the Skin.
What did you think? Eight of the best tweets
Terry Gilliam is a v warm, funny humanist. I’m torn on Zero Theorem, but like all his films it keeps you thinking #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Director: Diego Quemada-Díez Starring: Brandon López, Rodolfo Domínguez, Karen Martínez
Heading for @Film4FrightFest at @glasgowfilmfest. 2 days of violence, gore and depravity. Just like any other weekend in Glasgow. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
So, Frightfest Glasgow starts with SAVAGED. The script is goofy as hell, as were the performances, but it was certainly never boring! #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
METALHEAD was teRIFFic! (sorry). A humourous and touching film on the divergent ways we can cope with heartache #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Ah, the perils of film festival-ing - I’m developing a cold and a bad case of GFT knee. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Most inspirational night I’ve had in ages last night. @Ti_West made me remember what I love about filmmaking. Want to drop everything now… #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Picture of the day
The Golden Dream is the debut feature by Mexican director Diego QuemadaDíez, previously a cinematographer and camera operator on 21 Grams and The Constant Gardener. This film carries a similar weightiness and moral heft to those tomes to mortality and realpolitik, yet retains a dreamlike quality that at times leaves the film in debt as much to Terrence Malick as Alejandro González Iñárritu. The story follows three teenagers – Juan, Sara and Chauk – as they attempt to escape to the US from the slums of Guatemala. The journey, however, is fraught with peril: people traffickers, gangs and, worst of all, ‘migra’ – the migration officers who keep borders secure at rifle-point. The film never shies away from the brutality of the journey, yet the focus is as much on the bond the youngsters build on the road as the dangers they face together. Beautifully shot, and powerfully told, The Golden Dream succeeds in telling a political story, personally. [Sam Lewis] 1 Mar, Cineworld, 6pm 2 Mar, Cineworld, 1.15pm
Would love to have Terry Gilliam as my cool uncle. What a fabulous man. #wishfulthinking #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Danny Brown gets into the music at The Arches
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Photo: Neil Thomas Douglas
Produced by The Skinny magazine in association with the Glasgow Film Festival Editor Jamie Dunn Designer Ana Hine Assistant Editors Nathanael Smith Patrick Harley Distribution Franchesca Hashemi Graeme Campbell Jennifer Clews
GFF Box Office Order tickets from the box office at www.glasgowfilm.org/festival or call 0141 332 6535 or visit Glasgow Film Theatre 12 Rose Street, Glasgow, G3 6RB email@example.com