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A series of insider conversations between filmmakers about cinema, around a cafe table
In 2019, when we filmed the first episode of C For Coffee at Porto/Porto/Doc we asked the invited directors whether cinema was dead. At the end of 2020, a year where so much has happened, cinema is too in a completely different state. If in 2019 questions about whether it was dying were already so pertinent, 2020 was the year in which cinema was driven to an even further fragile position. With the pandemic, theatres closed, film releases were postponed and film festivals cancelled or adapted to new ways of existing. To survive, the industry moved online. If streaming was already carving its dominance, in 2020 the small screen became, at least for a time, the only way for viewers to watch films.
When we went to Pamplona in March 2020 to record the 2nd episode of the series, the pandemic hadn’t hit yet. It soon did, and C for Coffee too, was brought to a halt, the plans we had made to travel with the series postponed with everything else. When we eventually managed to record it again, at IndieLisboa, we had all these questions about the state of cinema in mind. Between 2019 and 2022, we got the chance to be in film festivals such as Curtas Vila do Conde, doclisboa and Festival de Cinema Luso-Brasileiro.
It was only by 2022 that we had the chance to travel outside Portugal again in order to make a new episode of the series, at Black Movie Independent Film Festival.
It seems that we are all living the same thing. We are always in the same context, we all use the same influences, the same production systems, the same projection places, and it reaches a point where everything becomes stigmatized. (...) The question is: How do we get out of this?
— Carlos Casas
The conversations in C for Coffee take place within the city and festival that contextualises them. Sitting inside emblematic cafe places, the invited filmmakers play a game where they pick out papers with questions on topics under discussion in contemporary film culture. These questions guide a conversation that is otherwise unbounded, a window into what insiders from the filmmaking world have to say informally to each other. Inspired by Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes, our original series C for Coffee provides a stage to a conversation that is free and unrestrained.
Once again, we tried to find out: what do filmmakers think about the current state of cinema?
CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN FILMMAKERS ABOUT CINEMA
EP. 01 — PORTO/POST/DOC
The first episode, made in collaboration with Porto/Post/Doc, was filmed during the 6th edition of the film festival, which took place in November 2019 in Porto. At the festival, we invited Ute Aurand, Valérie Masadian, Gurcan Keltek and Ben Rivers to, on a coffee break at the cafe A Brasileira, talk to each other about the state of cinema. Their informal, behind the scenes, conversations with one another, are an insider’s peek on thoughts not usually made public. These conversations inspired and informed all the other episodes too.
Read the full Is Cinema Dead? article on the 1st episode of the series.
EP. 02 — PUNTO DE VISTA
In March, we took the train to Pamplona to attend Punto de Vista, right before the pandemic hit the Iberian Peninsula. This second episode, recorded at Cafe Iruña during the spanish film festival, features conversations between Carlos Casas and Ana Vaz, and Gerard Ortin and Melisa Liebenthal.
Carlos Casas and Ana Vaz talked, amongst many things, about how it’s like to work with scarce resources and how the tensions involved in documentary filmmaking play between making art and making history. Like them, Gerard Ortin and Melisa Liebenthal also discuss scarce resources, team hierarchies in cinema and dubbing of films.
EP. 03 — INDIELISBOA
When we finally had the opportunity to go out after a summer focused on music, we returned to cinema (and to the cinema), and recorded the third episode of C for Coffee at IndieLisboa in August. For this episode, we invited Luis Lopez Carrasco and Catarina Vasconcelos, and Lois Patiño and Joana Pimenta to sit and talk at the emblematic Galeto.
In this conversation, already within the context of the pandemic, we wanted to know about the director’s work, but also how they see their work within the current context. Joana Pimenta and Lois Patiño reflected on which films matter the most for them right now, online platforms and the telling of personal and intimate stories in films, whereas Catarina Vasconcelos and Luis Lopez Carrasco discussed the role of memory in cinema and online distribution.
EP. 04 — FESTIVAL DE CINEMA LUSO-BRASILEIRO
In 2021, for the fourth episode of C for Coffee, we visited O Trovador Cafe in Santa Maria da Feira, during Festival de Cinema Luso-Brasileiro. Marcelo Gomes, João Nicolau, Rita Carelli and Leonor Noivo were invited to sit inside the cafe and play the game.
The first duo started the conversation with Marcelo Gomes sharing the experience of making his first feature film, shot in 16mm. Marcelo Gomes discussed with the Portuguese director João Nicolau about what makes a good character and the importance of music, they also shared their perspectives on their films and their backgrounds. Rita Carelli and Leonor Noivo had a question about the narrativity of music as a starting point. From there, the directors reflect on their backgrounds in the film industry — Rita Carelli as an actress and Leonor Noivo as a script supervisor—, and also the films they had directed.
EP. 05 — CURTAS VILA DO CONDE
O Pátio Café in Vila do Conde hosts another episode of C for Coffee. Jacqueline Lentzou enters the room with a t-shirt with Chantal Akerman’s image on it, saying she bought it in some museum. Lentzou sits by the window and someone from the team puts her mic ready. Jorge Jácome is also ready and the conversation starts. It’s like a first date, they say. The two directors find the time to talk about which films matter to them at the moment, the process of making a film and how different directors perceive it differently. They also reflected on what changes when you start making feature films or the importance of real and unreal.
Ali Asgari and Farnoosh Samadi started working together in 2012. Unlike the first duo invited for the fifth episode, they’ve known each other for almost 10 years. Asgari and Samadi shared their perspectives on how the distribution process has become simpler over the years, the impact of streaming platforms and personal and intimate stories.
EP. 06 — DOCLISBOA
DocLisboa hosted our team in Lisbon during the 2021’s edition of the festival. Maria João Guardão, Sérgio Silva, Michael Pilz and Edgar Pêra sit inside Cinemateca’s restaurant 39 Degraus for a conversation about cinema while having a coffee. They both call it a “blind date” and it is as the conversation goes on that both duos start to get to know each other’s perspective on filmmaking.
The directors discuss production and how it affects their jobs. Maria João Guardão and Sérgio Silva talk about how online content changed the industry, the different approaches in photography for cinema or their technicalities and how the differences between shooting with film and video began to be faced. Michael Pilz and Edgar Pêra discuss the impact of money and how it can change the director’s ambition in the process of making a film, and also making films through the personal archive.
EP. 07 — BLACK MOVIE
In early 2022, we finally had the chance to travel outside Portugal to shoot the final episode of C for Coffee. In January 2022, we attended Black Movie International Film Festival in Geneva. Black Movie says it maintains its initial vocation and keeps promoting films shaped by imaginary realities other than those familiar in the Western world.
Sol Berruezo Pichón-Riviére, from Argentina, and Renato Borrayo Serrano, from Guatemala, met at Remor Genève café for the first time. The directors began by facing the question’s papers as Tarot cards and end up discussing their films, the process of creation, the liberty of fiction or the changes in a director over experience.