This past weekend the Latin Beat festival came to Osaka (from Tokyo, where many more people attended the movies, including two parties with invited directors and actors).
Me, in spite of my 風邪 (cold but not influenza), saw two of them: the Spanish “Camino” and the Chilean “La Buena vida”. Both of them had things in common in their obvious differences of style and tone. Both have a dark side with deaths of young people but at the same time a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel hope.
Javier Fesser’s “Camino” is a sharp critic of the Spanish and Catholic institution of the Opus Day and their out-of-the-real-world ways but their insistence in power and money. His plot, based on the real story of a 12 year-old girl with terminal cancer in 1985, now dead and in process of beatification, shows the manipulation of the Institution and its priests, involved with the family at different levels. Fesser very successfully mixes reality and fantasy, things that happen outside and inside the main character’s mind, represented by Nerea Camacho, who in justice was awarded with the Goya to the best new actress.
Chilean “La Buena Vida” is darker if possible because of the constant pessimistic tone of the movie, maybe in relation with an economic crisis and the lack of hope for the future of the youth in that country -on the other side, one of the best in Latin America, economically speaking-. Different stories intermix in a kind of a chaotic destiny: a clarinet young musician desperate to get a position at the Philharmonic, a divorced social assistant with a pregnant 15 year-old daughter, a hair-dresser at 40 with financial problems and still living with his mother, a young drug-addict with a baby. All but one of them happened to have, if not a happy ending, a possible future one, with the characters assuming their problems and miseries and even laughing ant themselves –so Chilean, that-.
I wish many more festivals like this would come to Kansai.


Contemporary dance-theater performances in Japan are not as big as in Europe or America but still considerable.
This dance company, Dots, founded by an ex-student of some University of Arts in Kyoto, uses sounds -repeating tecno rhythms, classical or just meaningless voices- projected images –shadows, pictures on the watery walls- and organized chaotic movements to wrap the audience into a semiconscious dream. It succeeds, in occasions, like for example when all dancers get together and start a machine-like futuristic choreography; or when two of them performs the fusion of two bodies and souls into one; or when a seductive light and noise becomes a narcotic for a few individuals while some other try to retrieve them. But in some other occasions it’s just meaningless movements and dullness, and your mind runs away for some minutes from the dancers-actors to the beautiful –and cold, by the way- background, to your own thoughts.
No doubt this kind of art? dance? theatre? performance? is a different kind of language, very suggesting and open to many interpretations –as many as the number of people in the audience- but I prefer to attend more traditional ones with spoken intelligent language which not only makes you feel but also to think deeply, and a story-line that allows you some understanding and coherence.

My favourite kanji

Kanjis (Chinese characters) are to Japanese what paintings and sociology books are to Westerners, in many senses. In every kanji there is a small graphic story which shows their way of thinking, or at least, their ancient way of thinking. Let’s see an example, my favourite Kanji (picture above, 妄), which has a general meaning of illusion, delusion, obsession, etc, depending of its combination with other kanjis. This simple character can be split into two even more plain kanjis, meaning death (up, 亡) and woman (down, 女). What kind of relation can we find between an illusion and the death of a woman? Let’s think for a moment: an illusion means a wrong concept, something made up in our minds with no rational fundament at all. If we add the “obsession” nuance, we can imagine the whole picture: in our male minds (this would also be psychologically applicable for women’s minds but kanji are a little bit male-oriented, sorry) we meet superficially a woman and create an ideal image of her which fulfils all our needs and wishes, but which happens not to be true; it’s just an illusion that we created and that sooner or later, it’s going to die, the illusion, I mean, not the woman, kawaisou.
I guess that in Japan the illusion lasts more than in other cultures because of the ambiguity in communication –that’s called 曖昧 aimai-, the silences and the hiding of one’s real feelings, especially when it comes to women. And when the illusion finally ends up –it always does- a complex feeling of frustration but gratifying release shows up.

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