Sobrevuelos 2011-2014

Viggo-Works > Articles > Sobrevuelos 2011-2014 > Something Material

Something Material

By Viggo Mortensen, Fabián Casas and Lisandro Alonso - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe

31 May 2014


7-31 May 2014


As different as they can be as organisations, CASLA and Real Madrid have been quite similar during the last month in regard to the conduct and results of their professional first division male teams. The two teams erased themselves from their respective national championships - to a great extent thanks to the approach, attitudes and line-ups with little ambition on the part of their managers - in exchange for continuing to focus on their continental cups. The two teams have shown obvious potential to win any competition, but they are now so inconsistent from match to match that they scare their supporters a little sports-wise. If they don´t win those coveted international cups, the Copa Libertadores and the Champions League, it will be difficult to forget the conservative strategy that often has been boring soccer-wise and that wasted several opportunities to seriously fight for the national championship. Whatever happens in their Cup tournaments, as a supporter of both teams, I won´t forgive the cowardice of their managing teams and the consequent injustice done to the players and supporters of both clubs. If Madrid wins their tenth European cup, I will be happy but I won´t forget that the team was capable of winning the [Spanish] league and threw it out the window. If San Lorenzo wins the Libertadores, it will be a great relief but I won´t forget that we had the chance to defend the national championship with dignity and that Bauza relinquished it. A team should never get used to clearly playing beneath their sporting potential and technical ability. This is what Bauza and Ancelotti´s guys have done in their last matches, getting used to playing more or less well instead of fighting like savages, doing the minimum instead of the most to win. I hope that these bad habits won´t damage these two teams in their next cup matches.


What you´re saying is awesome, Cuervo. It´s true that you always have to give your all. Myself I had a lethal flu and slept almost all Saturday and Sunday, and today my brother told me that we looked like a team built on purpose for Verón´s farewell. Like that team that follows the Globetrotters around the world so the Harlem funny guys can put their cigarette butts out on their heads and make jokes at their expense. A cock-up.

© Harlem Globetrotters.
The truth is that people´s lives are so short that each match should be played as if it were the last. What you say about Bauza´s organizational apathy influencing us when playing against Brazil, scares me a little, because if we lose this Wednesday they´ll have to pick me up with a shovel and move me with a pulley system so I can travel to Cannes. I began to get my hopes up with the Libertadores [Cup]. I don´t think we have a team that´s less than the others. We can lose, of course, but we can win. And Pipi may come back, an amazing gladiator. I loved what you wrote about how Pipi was fighting alone in an unknown world. Great. Last night I watched the goals that the Pinchas [tr. note: Estudiantes nickname] scored on us and I wanted to kill myself. It seems that, like in your dream months ago, River will be champion. Viggo, there´s a book - I don´t remember which one - from the initial Carlos Castañeda pentalogy, where 'Don Juan' teaches Carlos how to manipulate dreams. That is to say, to have a certain awareness while he´s asleep and be able to shape his dreams at will. You have to do that and promise me that you´re never again going to dream that the shit team from a shitty guy like Ramón Díaz can become champion (with support from the barras, as you know.)


That´s how it was, brother. El Pelado [tr. note: Ramón Díaz] and his street band got the national trophy, and to make matters worse, the one equally as ugly in soccer, Bianchi´s awful Boca, was runner-up. The good news was that San Lorenzo accomplished a great feat against Cruzeiro, another complex rival for our guys in the most important tournament of the continent, and got into the Copa Libertadores semi-finals. And then we lost 2-1 against Vélez in our stadium, and in San Luís, in a wretched match for the Supercopa, 1-0 against River. There´s little left to say, only hope we play well in the Libertadores semi-finals after the World Cup in Brazil is over. As the "Ángel Milkibar" character you invented for Lisandro Alonso´s movie Jauja says, San Lorenzo needs "something material!" CASLA has an opportunity to make history, and it can't be wasted. We are the only Argentine team in the Libertadores semi-finals and, for the first time in more than twenty years, there´s no Brazilian team. That´s incredible, as is the fact that the coach of the National Team isn´t bringing either Tévez or an extraordinary goalkeeper like Willy Caballero to Brazil. The best Argentine goalkeepers will watch the World Cup on TV, as the Apache will do. Those seem like inexplicable mistakes to me, but, in any case, I hope that Argentina will play well and win the Cup. On the website, they posted an article called "How Can Argentina Not Take Tévez to Brazil?" Here it is:

Carlitos was a bust out in Italy, but he´s not going to Brazil
Carlitos was a bust out in Italy, but he´s not ….
© TBD.
To amuse ourselves a bit, I´m sending you a video with Ana Botella, the Mayor of Madrid, related to the final match of the Champions League between Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid in Lisbon. The woman, who last year in Buenos Aires made herself world famous with her laughable speech in support of the Olympic candidacy of the Spanish capital ("...come and have an exciting cup of café con leche in the Plaza Mayor...") has once more shown her unshakable commitment to ignorance in a spectacular blunder two days before the Champions League Final in Lisbon between two teams from the Spanish capital, an area that she and her husband, the predatory, right-wing, show-off and ex-president José María Aznar, manage as if it were their private hunting ground. The Mayor wasn't very clear about either the date of the most important match in the soccer history of her city, or the name of the place for the Final. Not a fucking idea. A complete asshole.

Real Madrid tied the final in the Champions [League], at 93 minutes with a head and true heart goal from the warrior Sergio Ramos, in a heart-stopping overtime. The same player had determined the semi-final against Pep Guardiola´s Bayern in a similar way. Madrid had to eliminate all the German teams in the tournament to reach the final against the Colchoneros [tr. note: Atlético de Madrid nickname] similar to San Lorenzo who had the assignment of eliminating the Brazilian teams from the Libertadores. We´ll see if things turn out right for us in the Libertadores like they turned out for Ancelotti´s team in the Champions.

In Lisbon and in Munich
In Lisbon and in Munich.
© TBD.
And this is great. The idea that a Danish plastic artist called Asger Jorn had of playing a soccer match with three teams on a pitch with six sides is becoming a reality. It´s a concept that has to do with the class struggle. I am sending you a link in Spanish and another in Danish.

Asger Jorn, a soccer crazy
Asger Jorn, a soccer crazy.
© TBD.
Ángel Correa is going to Simeone´s Atlético [de Madrid]. I´m glad for the kid, but we are going to miss him. Lovely that these days there are photos of him in the international press with, of course, the Ciclón´s shirt. And the money that his sale brings will be good for the club. Good luck, Angelito!

The Angel from Boedo leaves the nest
The Angel from Boedo leaves the nest.
© TBD.
Finally, as it has a lot to do with CASLA, I´m adding to this instalment the diary that we just finished writing with Lisandro about the experience of presenting the movie Jauja at the recent Cannes Festival. The magazine El Estado Mental [The Mental State] that's going to publish it in a couple of weeks has allowed us to reproduce it here:

"La somme de nos amours" [The Sum of Our Loves] - Jauja Diary

Viggo, 4 May

Dear Lisandro and Fabián,

As you know, Borja Casani, the editor of the new Spanish magazine, El estado mental, has suggested that we should write a diary together related to the participation of Jauja in the Cannes Festival. We can say anything, as usual. Short or long observations, photos, whatever, and we´re going to assemble the thing between the three of us. If you don´t mind, I´ll just begin.

© Cannes Film Festival.
We are exactly two weeks away from the world premiere of our movie in the 67th edition of the festival. Since the three of us decided in mid-2011 we were going to try to make this film, the production of Jauja has given us a beautiful, complicated and surprising journey. Lisandro, it seems to me you ended up making an extraordinary movie, and your return to the festival that in 2001 presented your first film, La libertad, is well-deserved. I never enjoyed a collective effort more than I did during the ultra-creative, multilingual collaboration we experienced as a team in those beautiful natural landscapes deep in Argentina. The movie pulsates with your aesthetics, Lisandro; with the humour and metaphysical strength of your poetry, Fabián; with the sharp photography and beautiful composition of the Finnish genius Timo Salmien; and with the spirit of a small, always loyal and courageous crew. With very few resources and just enough time, we were able to create an odyssey as much part of a fantasy world as of the "real" one we think we live in, and a film story that can be considered as much Danish as Argentine - things not that easy to achieve.

With Timo, in the midst of chaos during shooting
With Timo, in the midst of chaos during shooting.
© Viggo Mortensen.
And we´ll soon get together in a very different place from that of the shoot, far from the wind of the Patagonian coast, the autumn solitude of the Pampa and winter at the far end of the Americas. On Sunday, May 18 at 16:30, we´ll premiere our movie in the official selection called "Un certain regard." We´ll be on La Croisette in Cannes with the Danish actresses Ghita Nørby and Viilbjørk Malling, and with our team of Argentine, Danish, Dutch, French, Mexican, Brazilian, North American and Cuervo producers to present "the strange story." Do you remember how around 2012/2013 many people got to know about our production through the internet with that title, "Un cuento raro"? In an interview I did more than a year and a half ago for Ana Piterbarg´s film, Todos tenemos un plan, they asked me about our Danish-Argentine project. I said that what you two had thought up was a strange story, and right there they picked it up. Until recently there was no way to stop that virus; in almost all the papers and blogs the production kept appearing with that name. Back then, while we were shooting, we didn´t know the title would end up as Jauja. Actually, until last month, the movie was still called Sin título because a really good name didn´t occur to us. We almost kept that one, so we wouldn´t have to put up with the movie being called Un cuento raro! We considered several possibilities, but I think that in the end, Jauja is the most accurate, being the name of a real place but also that of a fantastic and seductive enigma. The problem now is that the French and others get a little nervous about that word. The fear of the Spanish "j". I think that will pass when we premiere our film in Cannes. It seems to me that "Jauja" sounds strange in any language, even in Spanish. What´s good about it is that it´s a mysterious, different word that provokes questions and may be a little confusing - exactly what happens to "Captain Dinesen" in our story.

Ghita Nørby´s blouse in Cannes
Ghita Nørby´s blouse in Cannes.
© Viggo Mortensen.
Although our purpose in this diary is to tell what turns out to be the experience of presenting the film in the Cannes Festival, to start with I take the liberty of clarifying the title thing a little. Those who know the word "jauja" in Latin America and in Europe have their own ideas of what it means: on one side we have the specifics of a city in Peru, in the Mantaro Valley, called Jauja, named in 1534 by Francisco Pizarro as Santa Fe of Hatun Xauxa, using the name of an older Iberian village. On the other hand, there´s the utopian idea of a strange and wonderful place, a place where everything is easy, delightful, enjoyable and beautiful - a paradise on Earth. This notion of a place of abundance and happiness in the New World began to spread in Europe in the Sixteenth Century, largely as a ploy by the state and certain merchants. What happened was that sailors who returned from the first voyages with Columbus and other captains were complaining about the hardships of the voyages and the conditions in that strange and inhospitable land they had "discovered." To carry out the conquest of the Americas required strong and ambitious soldiers and sailors, people who were willing to put up with everything in order to get rich and have great adventures. There was talk of a place full of gold, of infinite quantities of delicacies to enjoy, of a thousand beautiful things to attract new colonizers. The citizens of the Spanish Empire - being as gullible as people the world over to this day often are when it comes to the promise of a free and easy life - swallowed the tale. Erik the Red and his fellow Vikings did something similar centuries back when they returned from discovering Greenland (Grønland.) They gave it that name, which means "green land," to attract settlers and investment from Norway and Iceland. It was actually an inhospitable and frozen place, with a narrow green shore during its very short summer, but the Scandinavians thought that such a name held the promise of a fertile place with endless pastures. When they arrived in that harsh, frozen land, it was already too late to go back. They had to endure for the sake of their country.

In 1547, Lope de Rueda published a book called La tierra de Jauja (The Land of Xauxa), in which he said that there they paid men to sleep and punished those who insisted on working, and that the leaves of its trees were of delicious fine bread, its rivers milk and honey, its streets full of roasted meat and fried eggs, and a thousand other things in the same vein - that there was even food that talked and shouted to people "Eat me, eat me!" Lope's work is about two hungry thieves, Honziguera and Panarizo, who convince a gullible man named Mendrugo, who carries a pot of food, that Jauja is a land full of spectacular culinary riches. With Mendrugo unaware, the thieves tell him about the life of a thousand delicacies in Jauja while they take turns eating out of the greedy fool's stewpot. Our Captain Dinesen's hat could be considered a subconscious wink at the brilliant actor and playwright from Seville who described that appetizer…

Lope de Rueda, by Juan de Jáuregui, 1600/The 'Dinesens' in La Pampa
Lope de Rueda, by Juan de Jáuregui, 1600/The ….
© TBD/4L Productions.
The legend of Jauja spread rapidly through Europe. In 1567, the Flemish artist Pieter Brueghel created a painting of a gastronomical Eden called "Het Luilekkerland" (which translates roughly as "Lazy and Delicious Country"), in reference to that faraway perfect land named Jauja. Here's a detail from the painting that shows two guys snoozing after gobbling down an enormous quantity of self-preparing food (the origin of today's "fast food"?). There are roofs made of pastries and cakes, and various creatures such as pigs and geese, already cooked, on trays and plates. Some have knives stuck in them, ready to be devoured.

Detail from "Het Luilekkerland", 1567
Detail from "Het Luilekkerland", 1567.
© TBD.
Actually the name comes from Andalusia, from a village in Córdoba founded by the Arabs in the twelfth century. In their language, the word "Xauxa" can be translated as "corridor" or "side entrance." In other words, for Spaniards and Latin Americans it has the meaning of paradise (the expression "this is Jauja" persists until the present day and it´s applied when in a place where wealth is at hand and life is easy and without restrictions,) and for the Arabs, it´s an entrance or a passageway to something. For our film, as the audience will see, both meanings work. The journey that the Captain in our story takes is, up to a certain point, to restore happiness, but it turns out to be a gateway to personal discoveries beyond linear time and the longings he carries in his head and his heart. "Jauja" is a place and an idea that seem concrete to us, but in the end turns out to be as elusive as it is indescribable. What the three of us agreed to put at the beginning of the film is the following paragraph that summarises our objectives:

"The Ancients said that Jauja was a mythical land of abundance and happiness. Many expeditions sought the place in order to corroborate it. In time, the legend grew out of proportion. No doubt people were exaggerating, as usual. The only thing we know for certain is that all those who tried to find this earthly paradise got lost on the way."

I include all this to establish where we are coming from with the story, and how far we aspired to get in our inevitably futile effort to make the first perfect film in the history of cinema! Well, enough with the title and the intentions of the production. Let´s talk about what is in store for us and what will happen in Cannes with Jauja and our Gaucho-Viking crew. Let´s see whether we come to fruition or get lost on the journey with the world premiere.

Our Vikings in Parque Nacional Lihuel Calel
Our Vikings in Parque Nacional Lihuel Calel.
© Viggo Mortensen.
Fabián, 12 May:

Yesterday, Guada and I came out of the Hospital Alemán very thrilled. On the screen of the ultrasound we could see more than we expected: a rather big boy, with his arms open, revolving like an astronaut in the amniotic fluid. I was thrilled. As we crossed the street to eat at the bar in front of the hospital, I remembered that I had planted a tree at the house of a friend from elementary [school] when I was very young. I always remember this: we were on the island, it was a cold and cloudy day, we were very young and his father helped us plant it. It was great. I also have a daughter and now it seems I´ll have a son. And I wrote a script. Plant a tree, have a child, write a script.

Our photographer, Guada, with "Lorenzo" in La Lobería, second day of shooting
Our photographer, Guada, with "Lorenzo" in La ….
© Viggo Mortensen.
Just a few hours before flying to join up with my fellow adventurers (Lisandro and Viggo), I remember the first time I sat down at the bar at the corner of San Juan and Boedo before going to lunch with my father, and that I started to write down in a notebook what would later be Jauja´s script. I have always believed that collective achievements were superior to individual achievements, and cinema is a collective achievement like few others. It´s amazing the quantity of things that have to come together for a film to finally exist. Also with the creation of a human being. Let´s consider how long evolution had to take for man to come out of the sea, climb a tree, come down and walk up to the Cannes Film Festival's red carpet. I like films that are made as if they were poems. That is, they are in a state of questioning, don´t give any answers and they don´t lead the viewer. Rumble Fish, The Night of the Hunter, Solaris, Ordet, etc. They are colossal films, of course, but you try to look at them from below and feel inspired to make the leap.

"The Night of the Hunter", with Robert Mitchum
"The Night of the Hunter", with Robert ….
© Paul Gregory Productions.
I´m not interested in and don't believe in the rhetoric of cinema: the festivals, the competitions, the photographers, the critics and their sport score systems. I like films and I like the dark theatres when they are projected. I have no idea how Cannes will be but I was at the Frankfurt [Book] Fair for my books, and that experience was devastating. It almost leaves you with no desire to write. So I intend to take a surfboard to be able to surf the performance and, on the other hand, enjoy having finished a film I feel proud of for the incredible work by the people involved in it. I have a light suit in my suitcase, some CASLA pins to give out and spread the azulgrana gospel in the land of cinema, and I really want to see the film, finally finished, on a big screen.

Lisandro, 13 May:

Friends, I´m reading you here too.

We are in a rush like everyone who will be presenting their films in the coming days on that French coast that I sometimes remember during the month of May. Between images from the film and half-packed suitcases I´m getting ready with the greatest expectation possible, and eager to finally take the film out of the desk and make it available to whoever has time to come to the Debussy Theatre in the upcoming Cannes Festival. Viggo, I´m sure that right now you must be in London doing your promotion work for Hossein Amini and his film, as it should be.

Yesterday in Manchester with Hossein
Yesterday in Manchester with Hossein.
© Chris Payne.
Not being a San Lorenzo fan, I have no idea what happened yesterday during the match against Cruzeiro for the Copa Libertadores. I hope that the Cuervos have acquitted themselves well in the field. I know that you two are crazy and those results change the way you look at the world a bit! When I finish this letter I´m going to find out about the result of this match to be prepared before our meeting...

Fabián with the Cup
Fabián with the Cup.
© TBD.
Jauja is hot and wants to make some noise next Sunday the 18th. So it will, probably. Six years have passed since I premiered my previous film in Cannes. I've got married and also started a family, but all this is different from the pleasure I feel for this film, for the work with you two and Timo and all my Argentine gang who never leave me alone on any project.

Old friends in La Pampa
Old friends in La Pampa.
© TBD.
This film has engendered in me the desire to continue doing what I like and what I can´t stop thinking about: cinema. I insert here some images to show you the early process of making Jauja. These pictures are from when I started looking for locations in 2011, in Denmark. The first is a view from Egeskov Castle, the home of Viilbjørk Malling´s character, where the shooting began, and the other of some possible dresses for our "Ingeborg," from the castle´s archives:

© Lisandro Alonso.
And this one with Timo preparing the first scene of the shooting:

© Lisandro Alonso.
Viggo, 16 May:

Lisandro arrived yesterday in Cannes, and Fabián arrives tomorrow. I arrived today at midnight. I brought a kilo of yerba just in case, and so did Lisandro, so we´ll have more than enough maté.

© Viggo Mortensen.
We talked for a while about the festival on the little terrace of our rented apartment, having some chilled white wine from Provence with Esteban Bigliardi, who plays "Ángel Milkibar" in Jauja, and Ilse Hughan, our Dutch co-producer. They probably will be the last more or less peaceful moments of our stay in Cannes. I hung the San Lorenzo flags so Fabián will feel comfortable when he arrives. Because of the air traffic controllers strike in France, my flight from Madrid was delayed several hours. It was worse for you, Lisandro, having to wait with your family in Paris after your long flight from Buenos Aires, finally forced to take a train to get to Nice. Let´s hope Fabián will have better luck tomorrow, since they are saying in the media that the strike is going to end. The apartment we rented for these days has two bedrooms, one for Lisandro´s family, and the other for us Cuervos. The Danish Viilbjørk and her mother Petrine are in another apartment near Ghita´s hotel. The festival only gave us one hotel room, and we gave it to her. This way we´ll have access to the Carlton, a very refined hotel, to its bar and to Ghita´s room to hold emergency parties. Tomorrow we are going to gather here in our apartment with Ghita and Viilbjørk to talk to the Danish press. We already have cheese, cold meat, mussels and herring to make Scandinavian appetizers. We need some more beer and aquavit, the Danish liquor. We´ll get everything. We have already decorated the walls of the house for the event.

© Viggo Mortensen.
I quit smoking a week ago. I'm having a hell of a time staying clean in this constantly growing circus in this capital of cinematic promotion, but I'm going to try to keep the promise I made to myself. I suppose it will be a little strange for you all to see me without a cigarette butt, since I've always been the walking chimney of our trio. We'll see whether I can resist the temptation and you'll get used to seeing me without smoke.

Lisandro´s tobacco in our apartment
Lisandro´s tobacco in our apartment.
© Viggo Mortensen.
P.S. The movie poster is beautiful. And when I say "the," it's not just a manner of speaking. There is only ONE poster. We saw it in the office of the director of the section "Un Certain Regard." When I asked where I could get one to bring home, they told me it was the only one and they had to keep it there. If the movie does well, THE poster is going to be a very valuable object!

© 4L Productions.
Fabián, 17 May:

Saturday. Outdoors. Light. I've just left the airport and taken the connector. It strikes me that they aren't stopping me or hindering me in any way and that they aren't searching me down to the soles of my shoes. When I finally reach the airport in Nice, an older man is waiting for me, with a handwritten sign with my name on it. In two more hours, I'll be with Viggo making a similarsign, but that says "We want the Cup," written by hand in pencil, pen and marker.

© Viggo Mortensen.
I'm bringing two suits and shirts in my suitcase. Guadalupe, my wife, says it'll be very hot in Cannes and also that everyone will be very well dressed. I tell her that Lisandro won't be well dressed because he doesn't care about clothes, and she tells me that he'll absolutely have to dress up to go on the red carpet and things like that. The combination of heat and elegance makes me think that Cannes must be an African region full of models. I finally get to the house and Viggo and Lisandro are waiting for me. We hug. We're together in a roomy, comfortable apartment.

© Viggo Mortensen.
I remember that Viggo told me while we were filming the movie that one of Lisandro's greatest virtues is creating families at work. And there is something of that. We're together to watch the movie, but there's also a deep pleasure in seeing each other, interacting, eating, chatting, drinking maté, smoking. We finish out the night in a Vietnamese restaurant that the Mexican producers of the film invite us to. The food is extraordinary. I fall asleep standing up.

continues on page 2 .....

Viggo, 17 May

I went with Lisandro to the private event for the possible purchasers of our film, there in the huge cinematic bazaar of the festival. It's the fourth time that I've come to Cannes (I came previously in 2001 to promote the pre-release of The Lord of the Rings , in 2005 with A History of Violence and in 2012 with On The Road, but I've never seen the insanity of the great market for all kinds of cinema at such close range. Since I am the producer responsible for the North American rights for Jauja, I wanted to see which of the potential gringo distributors had come to see the movie. It was interesting watching people entering and a little more than an hour and a half later, watching them begin to leave the small theatre. Normally, according to what other producers had told me, the buyers enter and leave viewings, seeing a little of each film, talking on the telephone and sending text messages all the time, but in this case almost all of them stayed until the end. When they came out, they were talking among themselves about Jauja, many of them smiling. "It seems to me that it interested them. It could be a very good sign for the official premiere tomorrow in the Debussy theatre," I told Lisandro and Fiorella Moretti, the head of international sales for our movie. Let's see if we're lucky.

Esteban and Lisandro at the Cannes market
Esteban and Lisandro at the Cannes market.
© Viggo Mortensen.
In the afternoon we got the actors, Helle Ulsteen, our Danish producer, Lisandro and Fabián together in the dining room of our apartment to talk with a dozen Danish journalists. We spoke Danish, but also quite a lot of English so everybody could understand. The journalists hadn't seen the movie yet, which left them at a bit of a disadvantage, so we told them whatever. Several of them will come to the official premiere tomorrow, so I don't know if everything we told them today will make any sense. We told a lot of jokes while we drank beer, wine and a little whisky with them. We described the beautiful places and tremendous conditions of the shoot. We laughed a lot and the guests stayed a good while. Who knows what they are going to say about our crew in their magazines, on their television and radio programs. I think they had a good time. At least it wasn't the usual press conference, set up in a conference room at a La Croisette hotel.

Ghita had fun telling, in great detail, how she'd learned to inseminate pigs in Denmark some forty years ago, at the farm of a boyfriend she had at the time. She said that she inseminated better than the professionals, and that all the men on the farm were astonished at the apparently inborn talent she had for inserting significant quantities of semen into the pigs without upsetting them. The key would have been her voice, which is impressive, seductive, as you can hear in our movie. I'm sure it hypnotized the pigs. Fabián, newly arrived from Buenos Aires by way of Paris, was suffering from brutal jet lag, which gave him a mysterious air, with his gaze lost on the maritime horizon beyond the window next to the sofa he'd sunk into. For the Danish journalists, it must have been perfectly clear that the gentleman sunk in a sort of deep trance had to be the author - with his lovely ironed shirt, his scarf, his impenetrable glasses, his enigmatic smile, his gently murmured and slightly formal English - or a complete madman. Lisandro told them about the good fortune he'd had on the island of Sjælland in finding the property on which he could film the sequences in the castle and its forests with Viilbjørk, and about the fourteen dogs they had to manage for one of those Danish sequences. Many amusing things about the filming in Argentina were recounted. We even talked about our visit with Ghita to Ole Frijs Madsen, the Danish ambassador in Buenos Aires. When the ambassador found out that the Dansk Filminstitut (the Danish Film Institute) had denied us their support, the guy wanted to mount a crusade to obtain their official participation. We thanked him and told him it wasn't necessary, that we already had the support of INCAA, the Argentine film institute, and that we'd take care of the rest. We managed to make him and all of his family supporters of San Lorenzo. The morning after the party the ambassador had put on for us, we stopped by his reception desk and left him Cuervo shirts and tickets for the next CASLA match. Fortunately, we won that match, and now the Madsens, who had a very good time at our field, are super-Cuervos.

 With Ole Frijs Madsen, raising Cuervos in the Danish Embassy
With Ole Frijs Madsen, raising Cuervos in the ….
© Embajada de Dinamarca en Argentina..
Lisandro, 18 May

8:35 a.m., I go tearing out to do the technical check of the film. At 9 a.m. I meet up with Alex, the technical manager of the festival, a Spaniard with very good vibes who I'd already met in 2001 when I presented my first film in the same "Un certain regard." I was still feeling the effects of the previous night, but we remembered our collaboration from 13 years ago and we smiled…

© 4L Productions.
Let's return to 2014 in Cannes: there's not time for much, there never is, but now we've grown up and it seems that we are mature enough to do the technical test as it should be done... I see the projection of the film in a theatre for the first time. I'm thrilled by how incredible everything that I'm seeing and hearing is. I'm thinking - this cannot fail! - and we bring the test in the Debussy theatre to a conclusion. We head out with the same group as before, to which have been added Sylvie Pialat, the French co-producer, and her assistant Christophe. Also little Céline, Jauja's press manager for France. We arrive at the second theatre called Bazin and we repeat the picture and sound tests. I again repeat to myself that this cannot fail.

I leave for the meeting with the rest of the contingent that's going to the official photo call. We meet at the Hotel Carlton with Ghita, Viilbjørk, Fabián, Esteban and Viggo, plus some of the other producers. We leave through the back entrance of the Carlton to get into the official festival cars. Just before that, we see rushing by in a careless style similar to Viggo's, none other than Roman Polanski. I can't believe my eyes. I admire the Pole a lot. I see his back vanishing, hurrying off. Adiós, Polanski. Nice to meet you.

We get into our separate cars...we make a few turns until we reach a street parallel to the harbour where Viggo gets out and the people clamour for him. We are next door to the casino which is embedded in the Palais where the festival is held. It's strange that the casino and the theatre are conjoined like Siamese twins. Well, the thing is that we all get out of our respective Renaults and the screaming's all about seeing if a star appears, very little for the film itself, it seems. I saw Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, David Cronenberg, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska and others whose names I don't remember wandering around the complex. They give a certain color to the day of our party for Jauja, an amazing day for having our pictures taken for a while in the open air, sunny and with little wind. It seems like there are thousands of photographers, madness. On arriving at the counter, where the two photographer stalls are, behind us and in front of us the rain of shouts and flashes begin. It didn't matter much to me, truly, and I concentrated on watching the work of Viggo, Ghita, Viilbjørk, Fabián and Esteban Bigliardi until I'm asked to pose with Viggo. He, of course, had already pulled out his San Lorenzo flag for the occasion.

Bigliardi, Ghita, Viilbjørk and Viggo at the photo-call
Bigliardi, Ghita, Viilbjørk and Viggo at the ….
© TBD.
I recalled Patagonia where we'd filmed, how we slept outside and of the nights we had, and every once in a while I glanced out of the corner of my eye where Monica Bellucci was being photographed in a heart-stopping red dress with black polka dots. I love Monica. Viggo greets her...he's my producer, I thought...great. It's only a matter of time; I'm going to meet her. Later, from Buenos Aires, I'm going to be sorry, because we never saw her again. Cannes is like that. We are posed in different ways, making little mixed groups among the Jauja contingent, first one and then the others. End of the photo-call.

Wild boar asado and farewell of the team in La Pampa
Wild boar asado and farewell of the team in La ….
© Viggo Mortensen.
We go in a convoy to a special lunch where I remain alone with Viggo and Ghita for a few minutes at some kind of restaurant called Agora inside a big tent next to the beach. A short while later, Alberto Barbera, the director of the Venice Festival, approaches us. I greet him and soon we begin a very entertaining chat with Viggo about festivals in general. Venice, Cannes, Toronto and others. I suddenly interrupt him and ask him if he couldn't invite me to be on a jury at Venice, that I don't want to come to the Cannes festival anymore. He looks at me a little perplexed. We tell him a few jokes and then he tells us that the jury thing would be great and that he also wants to invite Viggo. Viggo says that he doesn't like to judge art. We go on laughing until the arrival of the Danes, Mads Mikkelsen and director Kristian Levring with whom he shot Salvation, a Danish western that's being shown out of the competition here at Cannes. I entertain myself by drinking a little wine while Ghita, Viggo and the other Danes laugh and act like they're at home.

Ghita, Mads and Kristian Levring, director of "The Salvation"
Ghita, Mads and Kristian Levring, director of ….
© Viggo Mortensen.
Mikkelsen seems very nice, a guy with a good sense of humor like the film's director. A short while later, we're going to sit down together for lunch. It's a buffet and I leave dish in hand to get myself some tomatoes and a piece of bread. I arrive at the buffet and I'm surprised that Thierry Frémaux, the festival manager, is next to me. I don't speak, I remain stupefied and it makes for a complicated silence. A silence wrapped around a whole lot of twists and turns - the suggestions on his part weeks ago with respect to the film, my reactions. Anyway, the peculiarities of a festival director. We go on without talking and I realize that it can't be any other way, that I can't talk at a given moment if I don't have any affinity with the person in front of me. His French comes to life and I hear "Bon appétit," and little more.

It's going to be a very long day. It's just 2:15 when we're leaving the Agora and we had to leave our great Ghita Nørby in the hands of Esteban Bigliardi. He's going to take her to the bar at the Hotel Majestic while Viggo and I rush off to our apartment to get dressed up for the premiere. We excuse ourselves and say that we'll return to the bar right away and Bigliardi yells at us in English in the middle of La Croisette, "Get out of here you bastards!"

Bigliardi and Nørby
Bigliardi and Nørby.
© Viggo Mortensen.
It makes us laugh but there's not time to celebrate much. We go running out to our lair to change and meet Fabián, my wife Coca, my son Román and Julieta who helps us take care of him.

Fabián, 18 May

Viggo, is a mandrill [tr. note: kind of baboon] with a red ass (in his case, red and blue) who doesn't stop for a minute, even though he has been up since early this morning. We drink maté while we get dressed for the photo call and then we go to a huge hotel where they are interviewing the Danish actresses. There are people in the room talking in many languages, cameramen, a makeup artist, people from Scandinavian TV. I practice my esperanto - which is to say, I speak slowly in Spanish so that everyone understands me. When we leave the hotel, someone bumps into me in the lobby, a midget who is rushing by. It's Roman Polanski, who runs faster than Angelito di María. Outside Stallone is on top of a tank to promote a new movie. I suppose that promoting a Hollywood tank up on a tank is tautological. Viggo tells me that he's going to tell everyone that I am the Duke di Casla, a specialized producer. I've put on a light suit, dark glasses and a scarf at the neck. Cannes, in the streets, is replete with James Bonds. We get into a car, [then] get out so that a whole lot of photographers can take our picture. We pull out a Ciclón flag that Viggo takes everywhere. It attracts the attention of people that we're doing that, but it doesn't attract the attention of the long line of photographers shouting, "Viggo, Viggo, Viggo, look at me," or the people who've been standing on plastic benches since early in the day to see celebrities, or the stupidity of the red carpet or that the films will be examined by a jury and scored like sporting events. Viggo and I seem like two clowns to them. Cannes and its paraphernalia is understood, but not us.

© TBD.
Viggo, 18 May

© TBD.
When we had to go looking for Ghita and Viilbjørk at the Carlton to go to the photo call, we couldn't enter the hotel because there were thousands of people watching the arrival of Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Schwarzenegger, Banderas and other pals from the action film, The Expendables, in those military tanks that you mentioned, Fabián. We had to wait for them outside, far from the security perimeter constructed for those crazies. We went into a bar across from the hotel, and there we found a beautiful picture with Ciclón colors and three somewhat nervous stags who could exactly be the three of us at Cannes. I take a photo of it and point out that it's called La somme de nos amours (The Sum of Our Loves).

© Viggo Mortensen.
The Danish women finally came out and we could go to the photo call and then to that lunch with some of the other participants in the festival, including Polanski, Almodóvar, Mikkelsen and some Chinese that I don't know. Later Lisandro and I ran to change for the premiere. We met up with all our people at the bar of the Majestic to wait for the official cars that were going to take us to the screening. The Mexican producers appeared with mezcal drinks in little plastic bags. We drank several to be polite. The mezcal has a good taste. The hour arrived. As consolation (I think) for not being in the first category of the competition, Theirry Frémaux has granted the Jauja crew special permission to make its entrance in a big way on the Palais' red carpet, like I've done other times with Cronenberg and Walter Salles in the official selection. A very nice gesture from Thierry; it's an unexpected honor. In the end, our cars don't arrive and we decide to go on foot. So we make our way on our own which is better really. There are plenty of photographers; the sun is shining. Fabián and I pull out our little poster and slowly we go up to be officially received by Frémaux. A lot of applause. The music is from a song that I recorded with the extraordinary guitarist Buckethead, one that we didn't use in the movie. Playing it for the red carpet was Lisandro's idea. The song is lovely; it calms us down.

Jauja´s world premiére
Jauja´s world premiére.
© TBD.
We enter the Palais and they direct us along a corridor to a nearby theatre, the Debussy. We wait a little while, somewhat anxiously, while we admire a beautiful photo taken by Guadalupe of Lisandro in La Loberia that they hung in the lobby next to the other directors competing in "Un certain regard."

© Guadalupe Gaona.
They finally invite us to enter the projection room. Frémaux speaks of his appreciation of Argentine cinema and names the president of the jury, Pablo Trapero. Afterwards, he introduces our group of international producers and finally Lisandro, Fabián and the actors. Thierry passes me the microphone, saying that I am the film's producer. I offer it to Lisandro, but he indicates to me with a nod of the head that I should talk. I want to say that, whatever happens with the jury and the press, our film and Lisandro's work clearly demonstrate that Tarkovsky is not dead, but I start off with "We want the Cup; it's that simple." Hardly anyone understands what I'm referring to and those that do probably think I'm a complete fool, but Fabián and Lisandro laugh. I think that I should talk about the many important things to underscore what's been accomplished with Jauja, but I decide that there is nothing to explain, and art, never. I make do with saying that our international crew feels proud to present this film and that, since this whole journey originated in Lisandro's head, he is the one who should say something about the film if he likes. Our director takes the microphone and says, "Nothing...thanks. I hope you will like our movie." That's it, nothing more, as it should be. I take a seat among my compatriots Ghita and Viilbjørk. People laugh several times, the Danes the most. It's because the film, besides being beautiful and profound, has very Danish humor, dry and ironic. Dinesen is a kind of Scandinavian Quixote. At the end, there's a prolonged silence in the theatre and then loud applause begins. To see the movie finished with image and sound for the first time has been moving. I feel very proud of what we just finished presenting. The Danish actresses killed it in this story, the Argentine actors were wonderful, Timo's photography has a terrible beauty and Lisandro's pacing is impeccable and unique. There are no words. They applaud us for a long time. No one leaves the theatre until the Jauja family decides to leave. Lisandro pulls out a bottle of mezcal that he was carrying in the pocket of his jacket and offers a drink to all of us while the applause fades away. He didn't want to go in a suit jacket, but I loaned him mine. Coca, Fabián and I are glad, because Lisandro looks handsome as it should be and very happy. Now he can enjoy the well-deserved public recognition of his hard work. We go to the party which is full of people we don't know, with some friend elbowing his way through the crowd with his mojito or champagne. Before immersing ourselves completely in the throng, we decide to go to have some dinner in a dining room next to the bar with Coca, Lisandro, Fabián, Ilse and others. Those who have those modern phones look at tweets and I don´t know what other things that tell you immediately what´s being said about anything anywhere on the planet. It seems that the initial word of mouth regarding Jauja is almost unanimously positive. Several people who have just seen the film, even some journalists, have already written that Lisandro has made a masterpiece and that the movie should be competing for the Palm D´Or. Some say that, so far, it´s the best film of the festival. I thought that Jauja was going to divide opinion much more, that half of the people would say it was great and the other [half] that it was very strange and incomprehensible. We are all very happy.

Fabián, 19 May

They showed the film yesterday. It was an intense thrill to see it with my dear ones who are part of the crew. The impact was remarkable. Tonight, with Viggo, after a dinner and a party that were held, we watched the match between CASLA and Vélez late at night on the laptop. We lost and it ruined our night. Lisandro came into our room to find out why we were shouting so much at 3 in the morning. Zárate had just finished killing us with another goal. Lisandro took a picture of us with his phone, and then left the Cuerva cave and went back to his room.

Reaction to the second goal by Zárate
Reaction to the second goal by Zárate.
© Lisandro Alonso.
Tomorrow is my last day in Cannes. I´m thinking a lot about that day when I met Lisandro and we started thinking about making this film. Cinema is something collective, demented. There are many lives hanging by a thread so a film can be made, for this to end well. Now the film doesn´t belong to us anymore and it has begun its journey on its own. In the mind of the audience, in the festivals. And Captain Dinesen? Where will he be? And his daughter? Will he have gotten rid of Zuluaga? And the coconut heads? Everything continues in a parallel life.

Viggo, 20 May

This morning, the same as yesterday, we did a lot of interviews with the international press. The journalists said very positive things about Jauja. In the daily list of the International Critics Association, the FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique,) our film is above all those in the Palm D´Or category and our own [category] "Un certain regard."

As I said just before Fabián and I left for the airport, it wouldn´t surprise me if this organisation gave the critics' award to Jauja. On the other hand, I think it´s quite unlikely that the jury presided over by Trapero would give anything to Lisandro. Now I´m flying to Madrid, and our trip to Cannes seems like a dream, as imaginary and destabilizing as Dinesen´s odyssey. Now I just want to go back home, like our captain - and Homer´s: "I decided then to raise my pleas to all the gods with the hope that one of them would show me the possible route back."

Lisandro, 23 May

Here I am hugging other directors when we found out that we didn't win any prize in "Un certain Regard." At the other end of the table is Abderrahmane Sissako, who participated in the competition with a great film that's called Timbuktu. He, unfortunately, didn't get any recognition from his jury either.

© TBD.
Viggo, 24 May

Fabián has returned to Buenos Aires and I to Madrid. Lisandro is staying on in Cannes with his family. They return to Argentina on Monday. Yesterday FIPRESCI [tr. note: International Federation of Film Critics] awarded us as the best film in "Un certain regard", and the critics and articles that continue coming out everywhere never stop praising Lisandro's work. I was beginning to think that yes, the jury might give him the award as best director, but in the end, they didn't give Jauja anything more. The jury prizes went to other films in our section, films that had generally received reviews quite inferior to ours. Some of those films are probably good too. What do I know...

Lisandro just wrote me the following: "Very unusual. I have no words about the jury, but I wanted to write you quickly about all the admiration that I have for you as people and the artists that you are. I'm always going to be grateful to you! I am proud of being able to tell my son Ramón that we worked together on the same project. To the health of our work! I love you very much."

Lisandro is breaking my balls because I often make the mistake of calling his kid "Ramón" instead of Román. Lisandro's family is for River Plate, although soccer isn't very important to Lisandro, and I think that the coach of the Gallinas, El Pelado, Ramón Diaz comes to mind. It's not fair that I make a mistake like that and I don't know why I do it. El Pelado is an egotistical jackass and Román is an angel.

Well, I hope that your little angel is breathing better, because last night you told me that he has an allergy to something there in Cannes. Tell Román not to worry about anything, that we too are a little allergic to Cannes right now. A kiss for him and for Coca. Fabián please give kisses to Guada and Anita.

Yesterday, with the FIPRESCI prize
Yesterday, with the FIPRESCI prize.
© Manu Yanez.
Dear friends, the jury doesn't matter at all. I'm sticking with what the FIPRESCI jury published this morning:

"Jauja created an original fantasy world with a landscape of passion, dreams and inner truth."
Top of this page
Last edited: 4 July 2022 10:09:30