I Love to Watch. I have always been fascinated by the cinema and the secretive, voyeuristic pleasure I get from looking at images on the screen. When the lights dim, and I sit in darkness, for those moments right before the cinematic world on the screen magically unfolds, I am suspended in space and time, in a state of desire.
There is no better way to experience such pleasure over and over again than at a film festival set in one of the most beautiful towns in the Galicia region of Spain, and on the bank of the Minho River, across the water from Portugal, where you can simply walk across the bridge from one country to the next. Play-Doc is about Cinema and celebrates the inventiveness and visual power of the cinematic apparatus. The festival invites the audience to explore the way in which films engage us, challenge us, inspire us and keep us coming back for more. Play-Doc is a testament to the pure excitement you feel when you discover filmmakers who create the kind of cinema that is hard to find in the void of endless streaming platforms. Play-Doc offers the audience an opportunity to discover what they would not find anywhere else.
At the Viennale in 2019, after meeting Sara García Villanueva, co-director of Play-Doc with Ángel Sánchez, I was excited to receive an invitation to come to Tui, to screen a retrospective of my early experimental short films as well as my most well-known film, VARIETY. I started planning my trip immediately, but Covid overwhelmed our lives a few months later, and across the world, we all went into lockdown; nobody knew how we would battle this virus. Finally, after almost two years of waiting, in 2021, I was eventually able to attend this small, intimate, unique and personal film festival, with a thoughtful, provocative and carefully selected program of films, filmmakers and guests from everywhere. I have been attending international festivals since the 1980s, but I have never fallen in love as I have with Play-Doc, with its warm and passionate festival directors and organizers, with the audiences and people of Tui, and with the town itself. Walking with Sara and Ángel one evening, on a small street winding up a pretty steep hill, I was mesmerized by a 13th-century gothic cathedral preserved from the Middle Ages. As I gazed in awe, I understood that I was experiencing a perfect moment.
Making films is a life choice; it takes enormous dedication, heart and belief in your idea. When you show your film to an audience, like the audiences at Play-Doc, all the self-doubt and anxiety disappears, and instead you can feel the warmth, curiosity and enjoyment of sharing the cinematic experience, an experience like no other.
In September 2021, I had the honour to present at the Tui International Film Festival my film Sepa, nuestro Señor de los Milagros, filmed in 1986 in the penal colony of the same name, in the Peruvian Amazon. This documentary was restored thanks to the collaboration of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, the Cinemathèque Suisse and the Cineteca di Bologna.
Despite the pandemic, the audience was numerous and participation surprisingly lively. I was also invited to give a masterclass on my documentary and my career as an executive producer, something I had never done before in my life. Despite initial nervousness, I felt quite comfortable thanks to the participation of the people, who were very well informed. One of the questions that someone from the audience asked me has left me thinking still today: How is it possible that after the five years of suffering that the shooting of Fitzcarraldo entailed, I was able to film, five years later and in just five days, Sepa, this marvellous documentary?
The Tui festival has been for me the nicest festival I know and I hope I can surprise you this year with my biography Película o muerte.
Iquitos, February 10th 2022