FEST’s 17th edition entered its final stretch this Saturday, but it saved the best for last. The week of exclusive and comprehensive sessions culminated in Isabel Coixet’s masterclass at sundown on the 8th, but the weekend brought to Multimeios de Espinho even more masters of cinema.
With a dynamite lineup, October 9th’s industry program called on Dörte Schneider (São Jorge) and the renowned writers and filmmakers Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting), and Kleber Mendonça Filho (Bacurau) for their privileged insight.
Never forgetting the present’s most pressing issues, the first masterclass of the day, with Dörte Schneider, was dedicated to sustainability in film, or how to make green cinema! Greenshooting is the introduction of environmentally friendly practices into film production to help reduce the industry’s ecological footprint. This is what Schneider has been dedicating her career to, as an assistant director and green consultant. This presentation not only gave attendees a look into climate literacy but also proved how using resources in a more efficient and conscient manner can only help film production. From as early as scriptwriting, as well as every stage of pre-production and filming, all the way to post-production, making films can and should be a sustainable practice. Schneider presented participants with tools and tips to make this happen on each of their projects too.
“I want to be surprised and delighted. That’s why we do this”, says Tony Grisoni in response to a question about how he approaches writing based on real-life testimony of different people. Surprising might just be the perfect word to describe the screenwriter’s incredibly diverse catalog. It was a highlight reel of this same catalog that opened the second masterclass of the day, as Grisoni cracked jokes about how it would be all downhill from there. That couldn’t be further from the truth with the screenwriter gripping the audience from start to finish with sublime storytelling and a look back into a decades-long career of great cinematic achievement and playfulness with the medium. High spirits and laughter, but also a reflection on the art of writing and creating fictional life, filled the room throughout. One great lesson from Tony Grisoni? Make a mess. First, make a mess, and then you can go back to it as much as you’d like and give it shape. But “the best thing you can do is write really sh*t”. The rest will follow.
The talk came to a close with questions by the audience and answers by Grisoni that were so sensible and witty they could have easily been scripted. “I fail every day”, Grisoni said of his writing routine, “and that’s a good note to end this talk on. Let’s end on failure”. But there was nothing resembling failure in the long applause that followed.
Irvine Welsh continued the day’s spotlight on writing. As a novelist and screenwriter, the icon of Scottish fiction shared valuable life lessons that left the attendees glued to their seats. Cinema as a collaborative process that depends on the abilities of different professionals from all disciplines was something repeatedly underlined by Welsh throughout, challenging the dominant vision of auteur cinema. This was, likewise, the reason referred to by the author to justify the parallelism between book writing and screenwriting that permeates his career.
In a candid, carefree way, with a healthy dose of dark humour, the speaker showed and discussed excerpts from several of his films, with Scotland and the human character of questionable characters as protagonists. The biggest name in his catalogue, Trainspotting, has an expected centrality, but other hits like Filth were also mentioned, with Welsh confessing that James McAvoy’s performance in the latter is one of the best he has ever seen.
One of FEST’s biggest days closed off with Kleber Mendonça Filho’s masterclass, joining Espinho via video call. The renowned Brazilian director made waves recently, when he called out the Brazilian government’s treatment of the cultural sector at Cannes. In his masterclass, Mendonça showed a few clips of his films, accompanying them with exclusive commentary and explained that the political character of his films is not intentional but rather springs from telling human stories about overcoming obstacles that can sometimes be caused by the way society is organised.
This human feel in his work, the director shared, is anchored to his own life experiences that have, more than once, wound up in his films. He does admit that his stories can be interpreted as political, and although he would never reject these readings, that is not usually his primary concern in filmmaking. For this director, the most important thing is to develop an interesting story and to find exciting ways to capture it visually. In a relaxed environment, with Mendonça’s kindness, the audience at FEST got to spend a couple of hours with one of the most prominent Brazilian directors of our time.
Article written by Francisca Tinoco.