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Timely feature Little Histories screens on Sunday, June 2 at the New Jersey International Film Festival!
By Al Nigrin
originally published: 05/31/2019
Timely feature Little Histories premieres on Sunday, June 2 at the New Jersey International Film Festival!
Here is the interview I did with Little Histories Director Rafael Marziano!
Nigrin: Your timely feature film is set during the five-day Venezuelan military coup that took place in 2002. Little Histories consists of five different fictional stories that unfold between the start of the coup and the return of then-President Hugo Chavez. Please tell us more about your film and what motivated you to make it?
Marziano: Some years ago I wrote a screenplay for a film, in which during a one day time frame, four characters meet in a kaleidoscope of events - all of them almost "natural" in the Venezuelan everydayness, but slowly turning into a grotesque comedy. The events in that story take place on 13th May 1995 during street protests, political chaos and social dissatisfaction. I am currently starting preparations for that film. But five years ago, a friend of mine asked me to write a sequel to that idea: to place the same characters in the events of 11th April 2002. On that day a coup d´etat took place amongst people with a high level of social chaos, personal unhappiness, spiritual loss and confusion. This project ended up being different from my first idea, but still keeping the core of the intention: a grotesque-like film, a collective portrait which shows an entire society through a few characters, mostly losers, unhappy and meaningless, in the time of social commotion, showing all of them to be indifferent, selfish, and lost.
My aim is, then, not the political meaning, or the social concern. Instead, the chaos happening in the souls of the people who are able to build a society which surprises the entire world with its endless collection of nonsense.
I feel that Venezuelan people have a soul illness - and they are an excellent example of the contemporary human being, just because being as they are, an underdeveloped and culturally disjointed group of people, they are not able to hide their chaos under a surface of civilization and order. Under those circumstances, they can show a very strong humanness – hilarious and tragic at the same time.
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Nigrin: The actors in your film are really terrific and very believable. Marialejandra Martin, Gonzalo Velutini, Ysesnia Camacho, Hecham Alhadwah and Indira Saturno to name a few were excellent. Please tell us why and how they were selected to be in your film.
Marziano: Thank you very much. I think the credit belongs to the actors, and the casting, of course. I met Sheila Moterola when I began casting actors for the film. She is an actress, but she had worked as a casting director once or twice before we met. Therefore, I asked her to help me, and we began working together. Our search for actors lasted more than a year, maybe one year and a half. There were some stressful situations - at the end of our search two actors could not be in the film for some reasons, so we had to look for actors for these roles again. On the other hand, I have no particular way of directing actors, just a simple one. When I thought about this film, l wanted to go back to the naive way of making films I used when I made short films as a student in Poland. Very simple, static film. Very real, however – full of truth. I wanted to deprive the film of any artifact, so I made the storyboard thinking in a very simple way of telling a story. Then, all the weight lies on the actor’s shoulders. There was no place for any kind of lie. There was no acting, but being. Of course, that is not possible. They are acting, but their aim was to deprive each character of anything but the essence of each story. Taking out these things exposed the characters, making them essentially nude in the scenes. That was not comfortable for any of us, especially for the actors. They told me that I forced them to be distant and restrained. That is not true, if you see the film, but they felt that way, just because I made them vulnerable in each story. So you can see the truth in each of them. On the other hand, when you write something, you are actually writing about yourself. It is your own world that you are showing. So I put myself in each character, and that is the reason I knew them so well. And, in the moment when ask an actor to play a character part, I am asking them to put the part I see of each character in the actor’s actual personality. This was not comfortable for any of us. But the result was very good.
Nigrin: It seems as if your film is really a commentary on how people -- from all walks of life -- try to stay normal during political unrest. Was that your intention?
Marziano: In a certain way, yes, of course. But not only that. This is true. People living their lives, try to assume it as normality. They try to get a feeling of peace and happiness even under the worst situations. I remember an extraordinary film of a friend of mine, Jolanta Dylewska: The Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, according to Marek Edelman. It is a documentary film where a single person - Edelman- tells how they fought against the Nazis being confined to the Warsaw Ghetto´s walls and ruins. They fought day and night, and the number of rebels decreased hour by hour. Until there were only six of them or seven of them. In that film, Edelman talks about something that is very uncomfortable: one day, in the middle of the fight, the rebel Jews walked to one of the windows, just at the border of the Ghetto. They looked out. It was a pretty sunny day. And they could see that beyond the Ghetto´s wall, there was a little park with a carousel, where children rode little wood horses. People talked about this for years. And there is nothing to talk about, but the simple, human truth, that people try to achieve a minimum of normality, even under the worse, tragic conditions.
But on the other hand, I am talking about responsibility or - worse - guiltiness. Today, you hear terrible news about Venezuela. But, do you really think all those things you read and hear about, have risen from nothing, over the period of couple of years? Or, worse, do you think that the only responsible people of that human tragedy are few corrupted, depraved guys at the top of the military and political power? Of course, they are responsible, but they are not the only ones. We all are responsible. We permitted it, not once, but many times. What is happening now, is the result of our indolence, weakness and complicity. We are all responsible, we are all guilty. What is happening outside of our home’s door, is a consequence of what we are in the interior of our houses. So, in order to show what happens in our society - each society – it is easier, and cheaper, to show what is happening in the very domestic and intimate tragedy of each family. Ibsen wrote once that the audience should be treat as an accused. Well, I think I did it in my film.
Nigrin: Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you would like to relay to our readers?
Marziano: The film was shot in 2014. That year, protest began again, with renewed force. Now, after five years, there is resignation and distrust. Now, it seems much more real than five years ago. Then, the film could be seen as rude. Now, unfortunately for all of us, the film is a portrait of our society. It is – in fact - a family portrait.
Little Histories Trailer:
The gripping animated short Anacronte will be screened prior to Little Histories. Here is more info on this screening:
Anacronte – Raúl Koler and Emiliano Sette (La Plata, Argentina) This animated short from Argentina refashions the struggle between good and evil. 2019; 12 min.
Little Histories – Rafael Marziano (Caracas, Venezuela) This timely feature film is set during the five-day Venezuelan military coup that took place in 2002. Little Histories consists of five different fictional stories that unfold between the start of the coup and the return of then-President Hugo Chavez. As the coup plays out, often in the background, the ordinary lives of the characters, from the working class to white-collar professionals, take on extraordinary dimensions. “Each story is a part of history, offering a commentary on normalcy in chaos.”-Kelly Harrison. In Spanish, subtitled. 2018; 93 min.
Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 7:00 PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey
$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends