Tag Archives: We´re All Sailors

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 146 – Todos somos marineros

Todos somos marineros (in English, We’re All Sailors) was partly inspired by a workshop in which a group of students spent eight hours discussing the opening line of The Merchant of Venice, and a news story about three Russian sailors left stranded in a Peruvian port due to the sudden bankruptcy of the company they worked for. Writer-director Miguel Ángel Moulet developed a story about just that predicament, a story in which two of the sailors are brothers attempting to find their place in the world, stranded in the coastal city of Chimbote, able neither to go home nor to establish a stable life in Peru, living in limbo, tentatively making connections with the locals.

Moulet is a graduate of EICTV, the Cuban film school, where José visits and spends a few days teaching every year, and this is how we come to bring this podcast to you, José having been screened Moulet’s debut feature recently and keen to share it with us. We’re far from the first to see it, the film being on the festival circuit and already having picked up a number of nominations and awards, including the prestigious FIPRESCI Prize at the Toulouse Latin America Film Festival. A screener was made available for us to watch, and we’re so grateful that it was, as it’s a beautiful, sensitive film.

That line from The Merchant of Venice reads: “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad”, and that simple thought informs the tone and themes of Moulet’s entire film. Todos somos marineros is a story about isolation, displacement, loneliness, and a kind of all-encompassing, ethereal sadness. The central four characters pair up throughout the film – the two brothers, Tolya, the elder, who feels a degree of paternal responsibility towards his younger brother Vitya; the cafe owner and her delivery boy, Sonia and Tito, who function as a kind of surrogate mother and son; Tolya and Sonia, who are in a loving relationship, and Vitya and Tito, who grow close and whose relationship leads to the film’s climax and quiet cliffhanger ending. These pairings are developed and expressed subtly, intelligently, and with heart.

The film makes significant use of long takes, both moving and still, and doesn’t exactly discriminate between when they should and shouldn’t be used. At their best, these shots allow the performances space to breathe, contribute to a delicate, slow pace, or help to convey a rich sense of the characters’ environment; at their worst, they distract from or even obscure what the film is showing us. There’s also use of a trope in which the film opens on a flashforward we’ll return to later, one that effectively establishes a strong mood and mystery but which Mike argues is not purposefully used, and which detracts from the film’s later scenes. (At least, that’s his argument for why he didn’t grasp what was going on in the film’s final third.) On the other hand, there is simply gorgeous cinematography by Camilo Soratti, his camera capturing dense, diffuse natural light infusing the air over Chimbote with extraordinarily beautiful colour and texture. And, overall, Moulet’s direction exhibits a strong control of tone, the film surging with the sense of sadness and loneliness so crucial to it.

There’s more besides all of this to discuss, and we take our time to do so. Todos somos marinerosis an imaginative, rich debut feature that is deservedly earning praise and winning prizes. There’s no predicting if and when it will come to a cinema near you, but if you do get the opportunity to see it, we urge you to jump at it.

José spoke to Miguel Ángel Moulet recently, and their conversation (in Spanish) can be heard here.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

In Conversation with Miguel Angel Moulet

todos

In conversation with Miguel Angel Moulet, in Spanish. Everyone will want to know more about this young Peruvian director once his debut feature, Todos somos marineros/ We´re All Sailors gets more and better seen. It´s currently doing the festival rounds and has already picked up an enviable array of  prizes, including the FICPRESI, the International Federation of Film Critics prize at the Toulouse Latin Amerincan Film Festival.

Screenshot 2019-04-21 at 12.05.38.png

For those of you who don´t speak the language, the gist of the conversation is as follows. The film arose out of a class on adaptation: He wasn´t too sure what to do and then he went to an inspiring class by Manfred Pfister who gave a two-week workshop on Shakespeare´s The Merchant of Venice. The first day, about eight hours or so, was spent discussing the first line, which is Antonio saying:´ In sooth, I know not why I am so sad´. From that starting point, time passed. He then developed a story that happened in two places, a boat and a port. Then he saw a news story on TV where three Russian sailors were stranded in a boat in the port when the company they worked for went bankrupt. They were left without  water and electricity and went into the market in town every few weeks where they were gifted enough detergent and vegetables to get by. When asked what they did to avoid boredom, they said nothing, they already knew each other well enough to make chat unnecessary. When asked if they wanted to return, they said yes, but without enthusiasm. They were just as happy to stay. So he set a relationship between two brothers stranded in a boat in a provincial port town of Chimbote, which is about five hours from Lima.

Screenshot 2019-04-21 at 12.06.34.jpeg

It´s a very beautiful film visually, with extraordinary cinematography by Camilo Soratti, exploring very current themes: the Rotterdam Film Festival catalogue included this suggestive sentence: “Without any heavy-handed comparisons, we can clearly make out the contours of a global diaspora: the rootless army wandering the world in search of a place to survive.” The film also treats the many kinds of love, sexual, romantic, but also fraternal through which we they try to break through an isolation that nonetheless can only be momentarily pierced and which overhangs the film as a kind of sadness made bittersweet by a love that is nonetheless heartfelt. There´s a dramatisation of internalised homophobia also, the results of which have unintended consequences. It´s a moving film, that well conveys not just people and a story but entire structures of feeling of a particular place in a particular time. This conversation with Miguel Angel Moulet is very much an initial and exploratory one of how the film came to be. We tried to not be too specific on the film so as to not spoil people´s pleasure once they see it. As an aside, the town of Chimbote, where some of the film was shot, should offer thanks to the filmmakers: the images of the town, and particularly of the light, are enough to make anyone want to visit. The podcast can be listened to here:

A podcast review from Eavesdropping at the Movies will follow shortly, as will a more extended review from myself,

José Arroyo