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VIFF’ 06 interview – To Play and to Fight director Alberto Arvelo

To Play and to Fight at VIFF (www.viff.org)
by Jason Whyte

“This film is about much more than music. “To Play and to Fight" (Tocar y Luchar) is a film about hope; about the power and the importance of hope in our every day lives. This documentary not only changed the life of all of us (the filmmakers), but is also changing the life of many people from all around the world... people who find in the message of these kids a deep inspiration. "To Play and to Fight" is a film about the resurrection of hope"” Alberto Arvelo, director of “To Play and to Fight” which screens at the 25th Vancouver International Film Festival (Sep. 28 – Oct. 13th).

Is this your first film in the VIFF? Do you have any other festival experience? If you're a festival veteran, let us know your favourite and least-favourite parts of the festival experience.

Yes, this is my first film at VIFF. "To Play and To Fight" is my first documentary experience. My other films: "One Life and Two trails", "A house with a view of the sea and "Havana Havana" have won more than 20 international awards, in film festivals like: Montreal, Biarritz, Valladolid, New York, Oslo, Havana, Miami, Manila, etc.

Could you give me a little look into your background (your own personal biography, if you will), and what led you to the desire to want to make film?

If have been trying to make films since I was 11 years old. "To Play and to Fight" is specially related with my childhood, because I was part of the immense movement portrayed in the film: the Venezuelan Youth Orchestras. As a cello player, I got from this orchestra a special sense of discipline, fellowship, and -- very important for a filmmaker -- a sense of rhythm and expression. I think these experienced have affected deeply all of my films.

Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question "When I grow up I want to be a ." Finish this sentence, please!

Filmmaker, filmmaker and filmmaker... Then I would love to be a chef.

While you were making the movie, were you thinking about the future release of the film, be it film festivals, paying customers, critical response, and so forth?

I must say that to me the response from the critics and the audience is as moving as the making the film. From "To Play and to Fight" I understand that people have an old and emerging necessity for hope as a common language, as a universal experience.

How did this project come to fruition? If you could, please provide me with a rundown, start to finish, from your involvement.

My participation was a matter of chance, just as most important things in our lives are.

What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production?

The biggest challenge was to portray the spirit of music and the spirit of these children, not in words but in images and emotions. Music and filmmaking are made of the same matter, of the same language: senses. But we were not only talking about music, but also about a social project: that means two different speeches in just one emotion.

Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film's cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

The technical part was created, in this film, for the message. The only protagonist in “To Play and to Fight” is the children and their lives. To be elegant with such a powerful theme and such a powerful project, we knew, from the beginning, we were obliged to work for their emotion.

Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with,
even if money was no object.


Lars Von Trier, Atom Egoyan.

Do you think that you have "made it" in this profession yet? If you don't believe so, what do you think would happen for that moment to occur?

Every film, as every poem or every picture or play, is a resurrection, a process. We are never done, we never "make it".

If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?

The film is going to be screened this month at the mystic Santa Cecilia's Conservatory Pavilion In Rome. I would not imagine a better place.

Do you have an opinion on the issue of "A Film by (Insert Director Here)"? Is this something you use? Many people collaborate to make a film yet simultaneously, the director is the final word on the production.

A film is a community. History has been showing us we all need a director, or a master, or a bishop, or a shaman in every community. That is our nature.

What would you say to someone on the street to see your film instead of the latest blockbuster playing at the Paramount?

A would say this film is about you... about heroes like you. Not about Paramount's heroes. Get ready to discover a part of yourself in this film.

No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start?

Simply, be yourself. Never try to be too intelligent, or cool, or fast, or deep. Be who you are; that is all you have to offer.

And finally…what is your all time favourite motion picture, and why?

I would say "Medea" or "Dogville", but to be honest and extending my prior answer I must say "E.T." because I decide to become a filmmaker when I was a kid watching that movie.

The 25th Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28th to October 13th, 2006. To see when this film is playing, and for more information on other screenings, happenings and what is going on at this year’s VIFF, point your browser to viff.org. – Jason Whyte, jasonwhyte@efilmcritic.com


link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=1959
originally posted: 09/30/06 04:00:28
last updated: 09/30/06 04:05:12
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