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Istanbul Film Festival

The largest, most established and most influential film event in Turkey, the Istanbul Film Festival has over the past 30 years, presented Istanbul audiences with a total of more than 3,250 films, showcasing the cinema of 103 countries, and attracting a total audience number of 3,150,000. With an audience of 150,000 in 2011, it is also considered the biggest Turkish film festival. Established in 1982 as a film week, and accredited by FIAPF in 1989, the Festival aims at encouraging the development of cinema in Turkey and promoting films of quality in the Turkish market. As such, the Festival incorporates the Meetings on the Bridge platform, and within the frame of this programme, a competitive Feature Film Project Development Workshop that was initiated in 2008, and a Work-in-Progress sidebar in order to support the Turkish film industry and Turkish film professionals. In 2015, the MoB began to accept submissions from neighbouring countries.

The Istanbul Film Festival features an International Competition (limited to films on arts and the artist or literary adaptations) with a monetary award of a total of €25,000 as its grand prize the Golden Tulip. Showcasing Turkish cinema as the most active promotional, international platform in Turkey, the Festival features a National Competition, A National Documentary Competition, and a Human Rights in Cinema competition endorsed by the Council of Europe. The festival each year screens around 200 feature films, and takes place in April.



EVEN THE RAIN, with Juan Carlos Aduviri


EVEN THE RAIN was directed by Iciar Bollaín and written by award winning screenwriter Paul Laverty. The film takes place in the village of Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2000. The premise was to make an epic film about Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas. It is a fiction film in the style of a documentary about this film crew and its director, Sebastián (Gael García Bernal), and his producer (Luis Tosar) as they attempt to show Columbus, exploiter of the indigenous people of Bolivia. More than just a film about a film, EVEN THE RAIN depicts a world still thriving under the effects of post-Columbian exploitation over 500 years later. While the filming of the Columbus movie takes place, the director and producer audition hundreds of locals to play the parts of the main characters of the fiction film to be shot, and amidst all of this, the Bolivian Water War (which took place in 2000) breaks out with thousands of locals rebelling against American corporate privatization of the Bolivian water supply.


In an interview with Juan Carlos Aduviri (who plays Daniel/Hatuey) in EVEN THE RAIN (2010), this year’s Oscar entry for Spain. I sat with Juan Carlos at the closing party in Istanbul during the 30th IFF. Although we were already happy (from the party) and he spoke in Bolivian Spanish and me in English, we understood each other somehow :-).



ME: So, Juan Carlos. It’s a pleasure to be talking to you amidst the carousing at this closing party. Can you start by telling our readers about your film? It’s almost like a documentary and a fiction together right?


JC: Look, it’s easy. In the visual technics this film looks like it’s a fiction but it’s more than a fiction film; it’s a projection based on all the zones of the city of Cochabamba and about the people who fight for survival and who live in this moment in Bolivia. These people decided, ‘this isn’t a documentary, this is a fiction’ because I saw in the country there exactly how the life is in reality. We take gas, fuel and killed one of our brothers. This is what I saw in the film. This is the reality. I learned a lot being in this because the people saw me acting in this film and asked, ‘who really is the protagonist of this film?’, because in the year 2000, these people also came out to read to act in the film, and they said: ‘this is not a film of fiction. This is a documentary’ because they understood the past? So, I don’t catalogue. I don’t classify like a fiction. In my opinion this is a documentary.


ME: This is an interesting subject because there are more and more films coming out today which are mixing this genre of documentary and fiction, blurring the borders of what we have tried to classify as ‘truth’ versus ‘fiction’. So, you have some documentaries which are manipulated and some fiction films which are more truth than fiction. What can you say about this and EVEN THE RAIN mixing these genres?


JC: When I saw the theme of the film would be filmed as a fiction I didn’t see the difference. It was exactly how I saw things. The whole group working on the film was very patient, very careful and the subject was very well studied. For this, I didn’t see a fiction I saw this as reality and about the people of Cochabamba who are represented in this fight. In the film, the only thing that I saw as fiction is the character of Gabriel Garcia Bernal and Luis Tosar. They are fiction but the person that I interpret in the Bolivian history, many people look like ‘Daniels’ who have organized this village who have had to overcome oppressors. In the film the only person who is not a fiction is Daniel because Daniel represents the whole history of Bolivia. For this, when the people say, ‘this is a documentary film, not a fiction’, that’s exactly what I want them to see.


ME: So, how did you get this role?


JC: I am not from the city in the film, Cochabamba. I am from the city El Alto that is in the region of Cochabamba. We had a grand responsibility to represent the people of Cochabamba because the characters of these people are very specific. When we screened the film in Europe I was tranquil because I know that the people would see an emotional and historic film. But I was more worried about seeing the film in Bolivia among the people there because being an actor of this film and having worked on it, it worried me that the Bolivian people would feel they were not well represented in the film but actually in Bolivia, you have lines and lines of people who are lining up outside the cinema to see this film. So I understood that the people accepted in a grand mode that this work is about them and for them. They forget about the acting and the directing of the film. For this, I consider the director a grand human being to understand these people and the great feat to confront the problems of the region. This was grand. This was a great talent.


ME: Can you speak about how this film came into being and how the story was first realized?


JC: This was a grand obligation to the Bolivian people. First, Paul Laverty, the writer of the film, had dedicated more than two years of his life living in Bolivia, investigating, studying Bolivia. When the director came on board he came to do the same thing. He came to Bolivia to investigate, to see the people who live this fight. When he understood more about what Bolivia signifies, he thought about how to make this film. They wanted to make a film about the real Bolivia. Bolivia and cinema in Bolivia is very lacking in economic resources so it’s very difficult to have cinema there. But, Paul Laverty and Iciar Bollain had understood the Bolivian history. Paul Laverty who wrote the screenplay of the film THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY (2006), an extraordinary film which won a prize at Cannes in 2006, he understands and dedicates himself to the social problems. When he wrote this script he did so in such an extraordinary manner, he is one who can feel pride for the human race. In all of the hypocrisy of human beings, there are a few who still have the hope and belief in the human race. Paul Laverty is one of those people who understood that it isn’t important what color you are, what social conditions you live in… If you are a human being we all speak in the same language. This is profound that he has the sensibility to write a story that is universal that people from all around the world can understand and be touched by.


ME: Beautifully put! Thank you! Is there anything else you would like to say about the film, about what it means to you?


JC: All of Latin America, especially Bolivia, has undergone 500 years of slavery, 500 years of bad treatment, 500 years of being treated like ignorant people, thieves, of liars and stupid. Actually, in Bolivia there is a lot of poverty. We are a colony with a lot of poverty but the colony is coming out. It’s a good time but not physically but mentally. Latin America, like in Bolivia, you have many countries in Latin America which are very poor. But the paradox is that the music in Latin America, the natural resources, the culture and the people are super rich. But the people are still very poor after 500 years of slavery and must also change here [and he pointed to his head]. The people now need to change mentally. I came from one of the lowest classes of Bolivia. I was the son of a minor and a countrywoman. To be here coming from such a low class to be here now in Istanbul. This is a dream I never would have imagined. Like I was in Madrid, in Paris, etc. So, I think of myself being a son of a minor and of a countrywoman and ask myself, ‘Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going?’ I can never forget this. I think about how in Bolivia and in Latin America we has a great potential to be one of the most richest lands of the world because of the riches that we have.


ME: This is incredible. Can you tell us more about where you came from and where you hope to go?


JC: I am Aymara of the Aymaras. They are great extraordinary as a race, in culture, in traditions like the Japanses, Arabs, Hindu, North Americans, etc. In the Aymaras we are like other cultures. We are the same as any other people in the world, without all of the poverty and all of the social problems, we are just like any other culture. The day that I can say, ‘I am as equal as, no better or worse than another person who is in South Africa, for example’. This idea is what I want for the new world, equality. I dream in my work every day to make a cinema in Bolivia (because I work in the free public film school for those who don’t have opportunities to work in other film schools) I dream for there to be a place for cinema in Bolivia, away from the politics. I have the security in my heart that cinema can make our dreams come true, that we are all equal, that we are all brothers. We all speak the same language and that we are all brothers. And cinema is so universal that we can achieve this dream.


ME: perfect! Wow! Juan Carlos, I hope also for this dream. Thank you so much for your passion and inspiration and please don’t stop acting… and directing.


JC: [laughs] Actually, I went to film school and studied to be a director and here I am representing a film where I play as an actor. Film is like this!


ME: Indeed, cinema is grand and very strange like this. Universal and very paradoxical. Thanks Juan Carlos. Now, let’s go join the party and celebrate your recent success.


Interview by Vanessa McMahon, April 24, 2011


Juan Carlos and Ahmed Abdallah

photo by Vanessa McMahon, at IFF


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About Istanbul Film Festival

The most comprehensive and oldest international film festival in Turkey. Established in 1982, it screens more than 200 films of various genres, and has an extensive Turkish features showcase. The Golden Tulip Grand Prize of the Festival has a monetary award attached.



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