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A series of insider conversations between filmmakers about cinema, around a cafe table
Last year, 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, this year the small screen became, at least for a time, the only way for viewers to watch films.
When we went to Pamplona in March, 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.
In fact, at a festival like this from where we're talking, there is no movie that fits this pyramidal structure. It's cinema made from within.
— 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.
Just this year  I have seen a number of films (...) you could say this was the golden period (of cinema). But obviously you can’t maybe see that until the future.
— Ben Rivers
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.
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
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.
When I was making the film I had all of these memories, (...) And I had all of these white spaces. (...) And I think what's very beautiful about cinema is that you can keep memories and also invent memories, if you don't have them.
— Catarina Vasconcelos
Ute Aurand, a devotee of 16mm filmmaking, has been one of the central figures of experimental cinema since the 80s. Developed within the tradition of filmed diaries, Ute's films are as much a celebration of being alive as they are inherently political and militant in the way they present a revindication of feminism and artisanal practices.
Valérie Massadian is Franco-armenian photographer and filmmaker. In her filmmaking, she focuses on female characters and the way they relate to the world and nature. Often using documentary tools to make fiction, Valérie constructs her films by developing close working relationships with nonprofessional actors, who bring their own experiences and histories into the development of their characters.
Turkish director Gürcan Keltek studied Film at Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, faculty of Fine Arts. Keltek’s first feature film Meteorlar/Meteors (2017) had its world premiere at the film festival of Locarno and was the film that gave Gürcan his win at the Porto/Post/Doc festival in 2017. Meteorlar shows images of war shot by amateur cameras and a meteors rain, combined in a poetic way to reflect upon the Kurdish conflict.
Ben Rivers is an artist and experimental filmmaker based in London. His work has been exhibited in several film festivals and galleries throughout the world and has won numerous awards. Rivers’ works across a broad range of subjects, from the exploitation of unknown wilderness territories to intimate portraits of real-life subjects.
Carlos Casas is a filmmaker and artist whose practice encompasses film, sound and the visual arts. His films have been screened and awarded in festivals around the world, like the Venice Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Buenos Aires International Film Festival, Mexico International Film Festival, FID Marseille, etc. His work has been exhibited and performed in international art institutions and galleries, such as Tate Modern, Palais de Tokyo, Centre Pompidou, CCCB Barcelona, GAM Torino, Bozar Bruxelles, among others.
Ana Vaz is an artist and filmmaker whose films, installations and performances speculate upon the relationships between myth and history, self and other through a cosmology of references and perspectives. Assemblages of found and shot materials, her films combine ethnography and speculation in exploring the f(r)ictions imprinted upon cultivated & savage environments. A graduate from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology & Le Fresnoy, Ana was also a member of the SPEAP (School of Political Arts), a project directed by Bruno Latour.
Gerard Ortín combines his artistic practice and music formation to experiment with various audiovisual, sound and performative formats. His work questions the meaning of nature and this inquiry comes to term by exploring other related concepts such as the animal, the non-human, the landscape, the territory, the domestication, the vegetable or the telluric etc. After having spent five years exploring the representation of the garden of his house (understood as the interstitial space between his home and the forest) his practice has been extended to other territories in an attempt to address subjects related to global ecology from specific local case studies.
Melisa Liebenthal is a film director and editor, graduated from Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires (Argentina). She specialized in editing and dramatic structure with award-winning professor Miguel Pérez (Argentina) and in essay-film at Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión (Cuba). Between 2017 and 2019, she was a resident at Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains (France), from where she graduated with honors.
Joana Pimenta is a filmmaker from Lisbon, Portugal, currently living and working between the United States and Brazil. Her short film The Figures Carved into the Knife by the Sap of the Banana Trees received the Competition Award at IndieLisboa ’14, where it premiered, the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and has been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, Taipei, among other venues. She works and teaches in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and in the BFA program in Film at Rutgers University, and is a fellow at the Film Study Center and the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Lois Patiño is a filmmaker and video artist born in 1983 in Vigo, Spain. Lois Patiño has deepened the study of film and art at the New York Film Academy and the Universität der Künste in Berlin, before moving to Barcelona for a master's degree in documentary film at the University Pompeu Fabra. He has directed several short films, exhibited in renowned museums and international festivals. With his first feature Coast of Death, Lois won the Leopard at Locarno for the best emerging director.
Catarina Vasconcelos was born in Lisbon in 1986. She studied at the Fine Arts Academy of Lisbon. In London she studied for an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, where she directed her first short “Metaphor or Sadness inside out”. Catarina Vasconcelos directed her first feature film in 2020, The Metamorphosis of Birds.
Luis López Carrasco born in 1981 in Spain. Carrasco is a filmmaker, writer and visual artist. In 2008, he founded the collective Los Hijos with Javier Fernández Vázquez and Natalia Marín Sancho. The collective's first feature film, Los Materiales, was chosen by the Spanish Cahiers du cinema as one of the ten best 'invisible' films of 2010. In 2013, López Carrasco released El futuro, the first feature he made independently. Aliens (2017) premiered at the Locarno Film Festival.