I gave this interview to KINO-NEWS just before the premiere of CINESAPIENS (1/3 of the 3X3D omnibus film with Jean-Luc Godard and Peter Greenaway) in Cannes (closing session of La Semaine de La Critique):
“AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE KINO-AUTEUR OF CINESAPIENS PART ONE” (retrieved from KINO-NEWS – , April 11, 2013 http://kino-news-updates.blogspot.pt)
“KINO-NEWS had a free pass to the Neuro-Lab Studio where Cinesapiens is being finished by a very small and very dedicated team. According to one of his close collaborators, Edgar Pêra used “irony and farce as the fuel.Cinesapiens is an astonishing motor of ideas. Everything is both atraccionistic and eccentricionistic: actors, musicians, dancers, they all play to the audience, and the audience plays for us.” But the filmmaker warned “ that’s just one of the ways to look at Cinesapiens. But I agree that it’s a new take on the cinema of the attractions using 3D as the catalyst for kino-novelty”.
KINO-NEWS: Cinesapiens will be shown together with 2 other films by Jean-Luc Godard and Peter Greenaway in the feature 3X3D. How did the project begin?
PÊRA: Four years ago Rodrigo Areias invited me to participate in the Guimarães Capital of Cultura 2012 movie program that you was starting to coordinate. I suggested that we did something in 3D. I am very fond of the possibilities of this new technology, and still starting to learn. It’s another way of looking at cinema and there’s still a 3D Citizen Kane to be done. Welles used the wide angle to re-invent the language of cinema, there’s still lots of exploring before we understand the full capacity of the tridimensional illusion. Of course the glasses are a vey annoying detail that has to be dealt before the 3D revolution can really happen.
KINO-NEWS: What do you think of the contemporary 3D cinema?
PÊRA: Hollywood rules in 3D Land. The New Wave of 3D Euro-films is still a utopia. Probably it will never happen. Cinesapiens surfs in this tridimensional void.
KINO-NEWS: What is the relationship between your films for Lisbon 1994 and Guimarães 2012? They were both commissioned by European Capitals of Culture.
PÊRA: Manual of Evasion LX94 and Cinesapiens have many connections. Both films deal with the concept of Novelty. Manual of Evasion deals with Novelty in Time and Cinesapiens with Novelty in Cinema. Manual of Evasion used the ideas of Terence Mckenna, Rudy Rucker and Robert Anton Wilson about time. Cinesapiens is a micro-fragmented story of the cinema spectator. It has many kino-quotes and influences.
KINO-NEWS: Yes, we’ve noticed. We found in Cinesapiens references and quotes from Buñuel, Dali, Monty Python, Jean Louis Schefer, Lumière, Raymond Bellour, Serge Daney, Edwin S. Porter, Eliot Weinberger, Jacques Dèrrida, Bruce Isaacs, The Jazz Singer, Al Jolson, Marcel Collet, António Lopes Ribeiro, Rudolfo Valentino, Ana Steese Richardson, Legion of Decency, Jaques Rancière, Jean-Luc Godard, Santana, Singing In The Rain, Tom Gunning, Mel Brooks, Sidney Lumet, Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever, Henry Jenkins, Elvis Presley, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Miroir du Cinema, Laura Mulvey, Vincent Price, Roger Corman, Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood Jr., Milos Forman, Wizard of Oz, Tom Waits, Bernard Herrman, Psycho, Bob Dylan, George Lucas, They Live, Videodrome, Woody Allen, John Williams, Jaws, Forbidden Planet, Joker, James Cagney, White Heat…
PÊRA: You have a very perceptive mind… You almost spotted everyone. And of course Jack Kirby and Ray Zone. And an excerpt from the short story “From Beyond” by Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
KINO-NEWS: Aren’t you afraid of losing your identity in the midst of a sea of cine-references?
PÊRA: Well, that was the challenge: to create a Kino-Frankenstein’s Monster, a new form of cine-life, but with conscience of itself. When the Kino-Frankensteins ’monster looks into the mirror, which is the screen, he sees a condensed reflection of Cine-History. So I created various levels of narrative, frames within frames and genres within genres. A kinetic bridge between a kino-essay and a cine-novel. There is one quote concerning Godard by Jacques Rancière which I particularly like: “Cinema has betrayed its vocation by sacrificing the fraternity of metaphors to the business of stories.” But the kino-quotes don’t necessarily reflect my point of view. The words and films were kino-canibalized, i.e. they were enslaved by the Cinesapiens creature. The screenplay uses the kino-quotes as catalysts for the scenes.
KINO-NEWS: Did you write a script for Cinesapiens?
PÊRA: Yes, I did, and sometimes I regret that I did it. (Pêra smiles)
KINO-NEWS (puzzled): Why?
PÊRA: Because I had to follow orders from my own past, and I would like to edit the film in total freedom. But one of the advantages of writing a screenplay for Cinesapiens, is that I had a direction and still I had liberty to shoot what I wanted to. So, before choosing the kino-quotes I wrote a text about Amazement in the history of cinema, from the Early Spectator to the Holocinema Viewer, establishing a bridge between kino-theory and film-practice.
KINO-NEWS: Cinesapiens is the prototype of your next 3D feature The Amazed Spectator?
PÊRA: Yes and no. Cinesapiens is a film by itself, but it is also the basis of The Amazed Spectator, both deeply rooted on the art B movie tradition. The Amazed Spectator is will be finished next year.
KINO-NEWS: Do you see a grim future for the cinema?
PÊRA: We hear a lot about the death of cinema, but cinema is alive, it is the viewers who are dying. And in this kino-kaos a new breed of spectators will emerge in the cracks of new ways of viewing films.
KINO-NEWS: You are talking about the Cinesapiens species? A Mutant Spectator? In the movie, the Cine-Lecturer Arnaldo Zeus (Nuno Melo) says that Cinesapiens is a being that perceives film as life and life as film. Is it someone who can believe in fiction and be amazed by reality?
PÊRA: I cannot say… I don’t think Zeus really knows what a Cinesapiens is…
KINO-NEWS: And what about the Kryptocelluloid beings that you keep talking about? Arnaldo Zeus also says that the kryptocelulloids suck reality and expel it in film form.
PÊRA: They are creatures that live in the memories of the spectators. Since we are global spectators we share mostly memories of Hollywood cinema.
KINO-NEWS (trying to be funny) : So the kryptocelluloids expel a lot of bullshit?
PÊRA: (trying to be serious) : I think that you can still find rule breakers inside the industry…
KINO-NEWS (interrupting) : I have with me a copy of a newspaper from 1990 about the Kryptocelluloids, so it’s an old concept of yours.
PÊRA: (looks at the newspaper smiling) O Independente? How did you find this? You are a krypto-reporter…
KINO-NEWS (slightly embarrassed): … where you say that “the kryptocelulloids were found by the assistant of Mr. Edison, while his boss was travelling to Europe. This unsung hero found a way to travel to the kryptocelluloid dimension and obtained the krypto-particles that originated film as we know it.” Are they a metaphor for filmmaking? Film as kind of excrement of reality?
PÊRA: The kryptocelluloids are very funny characters that I like to play with.
KINO-NEWS: Very different from The Baron.
PÊRA: Yes, Cinesapiens may be seen as a comical relieve from a neuro-gothic expressionistic nightmare. Before making a film I create a cine-universe to live in. When I was doing The Baron I volunteered to serve a master who was cruel and ruthless, who lived in the shadows and manipulated my will. Cinesapiens is a child made in an environment of love, freedom and enthusiasm so it meant for me a new way of life, much more true to my own identity. So it’s also a much more fragile cine-object.
PÊRA: Because it makes fun of serious subjects. When farce fucks with reality the result is a creature that needs some kind of visceral empathy, from a Parent-Amazed Spectator. Cinesapiens baby may be scorned by a Sober Spectator, not knowing how to react to its “silly faces”. And, as everybody knows, we still live under the dictatorship of Sobriety.
KINO-NEWS: So the Baron is a voyeuristic and “sober” film and Cinesapiens is an exhibitionist “alternate state of mind” movie ?
PÊRA: Well, The Baron is an adaptation of a novel from Branquinho da Fonseca and it was the first film I did with a “normal” subvention from the portuguese state. I had for the first time the opportunity to shoot with a honorable, even if very small for USA, budget. But it’s not a sober movie, the story is somber, but the film fights synkro-realistic tyranny, overlapping different dimensions of sound and image. The Baron was made under emotional fascism, as the original novel was written under the fascist regime. Cinesapiens was made after the collapse of a dictatorship. It celebrates freedom of thinking. And the right to laugh and to be silly.
KINO-NEWS: Is Cinesapiens a Silly Simphony?
PÊRA: Well, music is a key aspect of Cinesapiens. And I asked Jorge Prendas to make a silly musical that would remind the viewer some songs or artists of the history of cinema but without using the original melodies. Then I asked Leonor Keil to interpret it coreographicaly, also as a silly homage to the musicals.
KINO-NEWS: Do you feel that your cinema suffers from multiple personality disorder: In Cinesapiens and A Janela (Maryalva Mix)/ The Window (Don Juan Mix) you have the same actor playing different roles….
PÊRA: In Janela Lúcia Sigalho would play seven different women and seven different actors would play the same character, their lover. In Cinesapiens there are two actors who play different personas. Nuno Melo is Arnaldo Zeus the Cine-Lecturer. Each persona of Zeus represents different Ages of Spectatorship. Jorge Prendas is Alfredo Nyarlathotep, the Messenger of Chaos. His personas re-enact different ages of Kino-music.
KINO-NEWS: Both names have a portuguese first name and a mythological last name. Any particular reason?
PÊRA: Both Zeus and Nyarlathotep are beings that assume multiple forms. Hollywood has a pantheon of star-gods. Nyarlathotep is the messenger of the gods of the lovecraftian mythology.
KINO-NEWS: In Cinesapiens you have an excerpt from Lovecraft’s “From Beyond”.
PÊRA: Yes. Lovecraft was the only writer who updated mythology to modern times. His materialistic gods are reflections of the fears of our age. Their contempt for humans rivals our own contempt for each other.
KINO-NEWS: You already did an adaptation of Lovecraft with Keith Esher Davis (Professor Crawford Lovekraft in Cinesapiens). You used the famous first paragraph from The Call of Cthulhu.
PÊRA: Oh… that was a kino-sketch, a way to test 3D. …. Actually it’s the result of a trip to Auschwitz and a casting for the 3D feature Horror in The Red District, based on a Lovecraft story. Lovecraft anticipated the Holocaust. His phobias were the fuel of his narrative.
KINO-NEWS: Is there any connection to the From Beyond movie of the eighties?
PÊRA: Well, both films use humor to translate Lovecraft’s cosmic horror narrative. But I used the text, not the story. And if Lovecraft’s fiction doesn’t have humor, his letters have a lot. We can say that Lovecraft was much more complex than Kafka. The horror of his stories were based in the insignificance of human beings on a cosmic scale.
KINO-NEWS: The beginning of From Beyond is memorable: “What do we know of the world and the universe about us? We only see what we are constructed to see.” Is that a continuation of Who Is The Master Who Makes the Grass Green? and the reality tunnels of Robert Anton Wilson?
PÊRA: Yes. You are well informed and have a very sharp mind, for a young kid.
KINO-NEWS: (embarrassed) T…hank you.
PÊRA: Robert Anton Wilson objective relativism may be seen as a continuation of Lovecraft’s visions.
KINO-NEWS: So Cinesapiens is the continuation of the thesis of Who is the Master?
PÊRA: Well, Who is the Master is a seven minutes film. It must be a very short thesis! (laughs). But in a way, you are correct. Each person has its own reality tunnel and each spectator has a different memory of a movie. The consensual reality (and the consensual cinema) is the result of an atrophied organ of perception. I try to show my kino-reality tunnel with the minimum of interference from the cine-normalization processus.
KINO-NEWS: You worked with the same artistic team of The Baron in Cinesapiens. Actors, musicians and even some technicians. Why, if they are two complete different films?
PÊRA: Well, when I finish shooting a movie I always say: “now I am really ready to start shooting this film”. If you stay with the same people you tend to use what you’ve learned in the past and at the same time there is the common will to do something completely different.
KINO-NEWS: One last question about 3X3D: How do you feel between Godard and Greenaway?
PÊRA (smiling, and a bit ashamed): Like crashing into a party. Greenaway is a painter of moving images, a cine-architect. And it’s true that there’s cinema before and after Godard: today he is ubiquitous. I still have a very strong teenager-memory of Numéro Deux, of the way Godard treated the screen, it was a turning point in my way of looking at cinema. But I’m not relevant to the equation. I’m just a kino-trickster who likes to play with images and sounds. I only tried to be faithful to my cine-identity. I’m not in the same department of G & G.
KINO-NEWS: But the Worldwide Celluloid Massacre ranks you among them in the “Eccentric Europe section”. Zev Toledano even prefers Manual of Evasion LX94 to The Baron.
PÊRA: That guy must be more lunatic than I am. That’s one exception that confirms the rule. I’ve always lived outside the kino-radar. With 3X3D it’s the first time I have an international distributor. I’m cine-invisible.
KINO-NEWS: Do you agree with Olaf Moller when he said that you’re unknown because too different from what’s made in Portugal…He also says …
(PÊRA interrupts the Kino-News Reporter afraid that he will start proselytizing) PÊRA: Olaf Moller is another exception. He is the Krypto-Indiana Jones of lost cinematographies. He is also a text-maker, i.e. a filmmaker with words, who else could have said that I am a communist football player in a parallel universe?
KINO-NEWS: So the question still remains, sir: Who the Fuck is Edgar Pêra ?!?
PÊRA: Yes. You are correct again, young man. I must give you some autographed blu-rays of my films. When someone will publish them, of course. ”