Something Material

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7-31 May 2014

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VIGGO:

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.

FABIÁN:

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.

1sob514.jpg
© 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.)

VIGGO:

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 goal.com, they posted an article called "How Can Argentina Not Take Tévez to Brazil?" Here it is:

http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/67/world-cup-2014/2014/05/13/4816562/how-can-argentina-not-take-tevez-to-brazil

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 go....
© 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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5S579mUXOo

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.

http://pijamasurf.com/2014/02/futbol-anarquista-la-cancha-hexagonal-que-confronta-tus-ideas-sobre-la-lucha-de-clases

http://politiken.dk/kultur/kunst/ECE1346611/sekskantet-dansk-fodboldutopi-bliver-til-virkelighed


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.

6sob514.jpg
© 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 'Din....
© 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 Lobe....
© 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 Mitchum....
© 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.

14sob514.png
© CASLA.
 
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:

18sob514.jpg
© Lisandro Alonso.
 
And this one with Timo preparing the first scene of the shooting:

19sob514.jpg
© 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.

20sob514.jpg
© 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.

21sob514.jpg
© 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!

23sob514.jpg
© 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.

24sob514.jpg
© 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.

25sob514.jpg
© 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.

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