The Poetry of LIVING IS EASY WITH EYES CLOSED
“On the white path the trunks of frustrate trees show black, on the distant mountains there is gold and blood. The sun dies . . . What do you seek, poet, in the sunset?” Antonio (Javier Camara) was quoting the poetry of Antonio Machado to Belen (Natalia De Molina). Antonio is an elementary school teacher; Belen is a young woman trying to escape her old life, Juanjo (Francesc Colomer) also had to runaway from home. The three of them form an unlikely friendship on their way to a remote town in Andalucia, Spain called Almeria.
VIVIR ES FACIL CON LOS OJOS CERRADOS (LIVING IS EASY WITH EYES CLOSED) is one of many films in the PELICULA Spanish film festival running from October 9-19, 2014 at the Greenbelt Cinemas. Filmgoers who vote for the Audience Choice award can get the chance to win a round trip ticket to Spain courtesy of Qatar Airways.
The real inspiration for Antonio, played by actor Javier Camara, is THE BEATLES. By 1966 he was one of many people obsessed with what is considered to be the ‘GREATEST rock band of all time’. He teaches English to grade-schoolers by reading lyrics of HELP. The story was loosely based on the experiences of real life teacher Juan Carrion Gañan. It is also Spain’s official entry for the Oscar ceremonies held on 2015.
The title of the film is taken from the first line of STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER that was actually written by John Lennon during his stay in Almeria. Although he did write the song there, which had their own strawberry farms/fields, the song was inspired by an actual place behind Lennon’s aunt’s house in Liverpool called Strawberry Fields. Perhaps the strawberry fields in Almeria reminded him of that more innocent and carefree time in his life, hence the song. Lennon was in Andalucia, Spain to act in a film called HOW I WON THE WAR. The obsessed schoolteacher in Antonio had to try and interview the legendary Beatle.
On his way, he gives a car ride to Belen and Juanjo. The young, dark haired Natalia De Molina plays Belen. The role has won her a GOYA and CINEMA WRITERS CIRCLE AWARDS Best New Actress. To us Pinoys she’s very similar to Jasmine Curtis Smith. She has a sweet face that melts the toughest male hearts. She is trying to escape a failed romance, having a need to go away even to the remote town of Almeria. There’s a palpable sexual tension the first time she meets Antonio, even Juanjo. Both of them are too kind at heart to take advantage of this young lady on the run. The film does take an erotic turn when Belen has too much to drink and decides to take matters in her own hands, literally.
Spain in 1966 was under the authoritarian Francisco Franco Regime, which had been in power for 26 years by then. Franco himself described his government as totalitarian. His rightwing, conservative thinking pervaded the whole country and culture. This made the older, conservative generation at odds with the youth, free thinkers and psychedelic hippie counter culture.
Director David Trueba explained, “Social regimes are always transposed to family and other relationships. In the end the regime you’re living justifies the rapport between people. So we used to live in a repressive country the relationship in the family, the couple in the school it’s going to be repressive. If you live in a different environment it’s going to be a different thing. My idea was society was fighting against the regime even before the politics.”
That’s what happened to each of the 3 main characters in their own way. Antonio imbibes the BEATLES values of peace and love to his students. His insistence on education and devotion to knowledge is often at odds with the many poor people just trying to survive. Juanjo played by Francesc Colomer is in conflict with his domineering and yes conservative father (Jorge Sanz) who is also a cop. Belen is battling conservatism within her own family and represents the struggle of women’s rights that we take for granted today.
This role has earned Javier Camara a GOYA Best Actor award. He is also one of the more popular actors in Spain. He is likewise the lead in LA VIDA INESPERADA (THE UNEXPECTED LIFE) also part of the Pelicula film fest. ‘LA VIDA… is more of a comedy set in New York about an off, off, off Broadway performer welcoming his cousin from Spain for an extended stay. Hardly leading man material in terms of looks with his baldhead and potbelly, he easily charms audiences with his wit and humor. For Filipino fans, Camara has a resemblance with long time theater stalwart Miguel Faustmann (without hair). Both Miguel and Jasmine Curtis-Smith are currently starring in BONIFACIO ANG UNANG PANGULO opposite Robin Padilla in this year’s MMFF.
Almeria is on the southernmost coast of Spain. Cinematographer Daniel Villar proves he is a visual poet who captured the breath taking and changing landscapes. Getting there is almost dry, desert-like. The constant sunshine, tumbleweeds, reminds one of a Spanish colony-Mexico, hence the similarities in architecture and language. The stark blue of the Mediterranean soothes their senses after a long car trip through dry hilly country. Down the coast are the cities of Malaga and Marbella and further south is the Strait of Gibraltar. Watching a film takes you there, who knows you may actually win a flight to Madre España as well?
Presented by Instituto Cervantes, the Embassy of Spain, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Greenbelt and Ayala Cinemas, PELÍCULA is made possible by Emperador Distillers, Vibal Foundation, Qatar Airways, in collaboration with the Embassy of Mexico, Instituto Etxepare, Ayala Museum, Alba’s Restaurante Español, New World Hotel and Espa-Fil.
For the schedule, line-up of films and further information on the Festival please visit the official website of Instituto Cervantes (www.manila.cervantes.es) or log on to its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila
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This entry was posted on October 11, 2014 by jude bautista. It was filed under People and was tagged with Alba’s Restaurante Español, Almeria, Andalucia, Antonio, Antonio Machado, Audience Choice award, Ayala Cinemas, Ayala Museum, Belen, BONIFACIO ANG UNANG PANGULO, Cinematographer, conservative, country, culture, Daniel Villar, David Trueba, director, Embassy of Mexico, Emperador Distillers, English, Espa-Fil, FDCP, Filipino, Francesc Colomer, Francisco Franco, GREATEST rock band of all time, Greenbelt, Greenbelt Cinemas, HELP, HOW I WON THE WAR, Instituto Cervantes, Instituto Etxepare, Javier Camara, John Lennon, Juan Carrion Gañan, Juanjo, LA VIDA INESPERADA, LIVING IS EASY WITH EYES CLOSED, Malaga, Marbella, Mediterranean, Mexico, Miguel, Miguel Faustmann, MMFF, Natalia De Molina, New World Hotel, PELÍCULA, PELICULA Spanish film festival, Poet, Qatar Airways, rightwing, Robin Padilla, Social regimes, Spain, Strait of Gibraltar, STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER, The Beatles, the Embassy of Spain, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, totalitarian, Vibal Foundation, VIVIR ES FACIL CON LOS OJOS CERRADOS.