Writings and essays about flamenco

Category — Flamenco Film Project “Caminando”

Hollywood “Goes To” Flamenco – Article by Miquel Jurado in El País of April 24, 2014 – translated by Brook Zern

Proyecto estadounidense para rodar un filme ambientado en el mundo del cante

(An American project for a film shot within the world of flamenco song)

Historically, Hollywood has ignored flamenco or, worse yet, used it as an exotic guind in forgettable B movies.  Not even Al Pacino, doing a few steps in a flamenco night club to the sound of the singer Potito and the guitarist Tomatito in “The Devil’s Advocate” with the Devil could go beyond the stereotype; it simply lent some of the exotic spice of a musical form that American cinema seemed unable to understand.

Even before that, Hollywood had squandered talents as enormous as Carmen Amaya in the 1940’s (she would have to return to here native Somorrostro district of Barcelona for Francesc Rovera Beleta to give her the cinematographic vehicle she deserved [in “Los Tarantos”]), and of Antonio Gades in the sixties, though not even Jean Negulesco could do him justice (his film break would come at the hands of Carlos Saura).  Nor would our warmly remembered Paco de Lucía have any luck; it’s best to forget his futile work in a film starring Raquel Welch in the early seventies.

Now the director, choreographer and scriptwriter Daryl Lynn Matthews seems ready to change things by entering more deeply into the world of flamenco.  At least, that’s the basis for his new project, “Caminando”.  Matthews, whose other work includes the script and choreography of Chayanne titled “Baila Conmigo”, has written a story centering on an ex-U.S. Marine pilot of Spanish background who returns to Spain to find out why his father, a professional dancer, fled from his homeland.

From that point on, the hatred and violence of Spain’s past mix with innocent present-day love affairs, within the context of the best of today’s flamenco.

“I began the project soon after writing “Baila Conmigo”, says Daryl Lyn Matthews.  “I knew very little about the real world of flamenco in which I submerged myself but I felt an obligation. Realizing that there really should be an international English-language film with a good story, told through this precious, sexy, intense and unsettling culture.”

To tell the story, which will be filmed in sites like Madrid (the presentation videos were shot in that city’s noted tablao, Casa Patas) as well as in the Canary Islands, the Texan director has been relying on some renowned collaborators including the director of photography Vittorio Storano (with three Oscars, for “Reds”, “The Last Emperor” and “Apocalypse Now”.  Production design is in the hands of Waldemar Kalnowski and the Spanish production is headed by Carlos Saura, Jr. with Chiqui Maya as artistic producer.

An agreement has already been reached with Universal Records who will provide some of its artists (Tomatito, Rosario. Pitingo, and Antonio and Josemi Carmona) for a soundtrack for which seven of the thirteen projected songs have been completed; another number, which was to have featured the guitar of the late Paco de Lucía, can never be finished.

The names mentioned for the cast include “international figures still to be decided”, who will be linked to a flamenco lineup headed by Rafael Amargo, Monica Cruz, Lolita Flores and Joselito Maya.

At present, the team behind “Caminando” has begun the process of crowdfunding [“micromenazgo”] through Indiegogo to reach the initial goal of nine million Euros that will allow the beginning of filming at the end of next spring.

End of El País article.  The original is at http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/2014/04/24/catalunya/1398294823_551859.html

Translator’s note:  It would be nice indeed if this became the English-language film to finally introduce the complex world of flamenco to American and international audiences.  It seems to have some serious backing, though a reliance on crowdfunding can be problematic at best. 

(I know nothing more about the project, but will keep an eye out for any further signs of progress.)

Brook Zern  

 

April 26, 2014   No Comments