Search Film Reviews

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: Amat Escalante

Amat Escalante
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain - © 2013 Getty Images - Image courtesy
By Amat Escalante and Joshua Handler 

Recently I've been disturbed by the amount of people who don't seek out independent films, non-English-language films, and classics.  So, I asked some of the most distinctive voices in independent and world cinema to submit responses to a few questions about why/if they think indies/non-English-language films/classics are important to view, and how those films have been influential on their careers.

The response below is from Amat Escalante, winner of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Best Director Prize for HELI. Amat also directed the award-winning films LOS BASTARDOS and SANGRE.

Do you feel that it is important for people to view independent and world cinema and why?
I think it is important for aspiring filmmakers to see all kinds of cinema. I feel that being open to new and different experiences in life and in art only make you stronger and more knowledgeable. I myself learned a great deal early on when I was exposed to the movies of Werner Herzog and Luis Buñuel. I can really appreciate how watching those filmmakers' films affected me. As far as filmgoers are concerned, of course the same applies, but I think it is more a question of taste and curiosity, but I can't justify why it would be important for them to see those kinds of movies. One is free to do what one wants.
Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view films of the past and why (if you don't feel that it is important, please tell why)? 
Yes I think that it is important for many reasons if you want to dedicate yourself to making movies. I believe that you have to give yourself to films and see as much as possible. Throughout time, very different movies have been made because of very different world situations. So seeing films from all times and from different filmmakers will only make you a stronger, more informed one. 
A still from HELI
Courtesy of Outsider Pictures
How did viewing indies and films from around the world help you when making HELI or any of your other films?
It was my film school. I did not really attend a real film school, so I had to find my teachers and my instructions by watching films. I watched about a movie a day during many years and I read many books about films, filmmakers and film making. I lived two years in Austin, TX and was a regular attendee of the Austin Film Society, a place where I discovered people like W.R. Fassbinder, Tarkovsky, Robert Bresson, Sam Fuller, Chantal Akerman, and James Benning. All in real 35 or 16mm film prints! The period between ages 16 to 18 was a very important time for me.
What is one Mexican film and one non-Mexican film you'd recommend that filmgoers or aspiring filmmakers view? 
Mexican film, you must see JAPÓN by Carlos Reygadas. It is Carlos' first film and for me, it really showed what a filmmaker can do when he believes in what he is doing and has the conviction to do something great and powerful even with very little resources. Non-Mexican I would recommend the German film M by Fritz Lang. It is a great big lesson in how to make a movie and it's the first time the director ever used direct sound.
From the Mouths of Filmmakers will continue on Friday.

No comments:

Post a Comment