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SPONTANEITY, FREEDOM AND A TOUCH OF MADNESS
Luis Armando Roche, awarded the 1999 Venezuelan National Film Award, presents his latest work as Director: (“De Repente, la película) “Suddenly, a film”, a project that changed names several times and was idle for years. Mr. Roche, inadvertently realized that the script summarized many of his recurring themes with, as he says “the irreverence of those who do not believe in patterns”.
The first thing to take into account by the viewer, is that “Suddenly…” is not a conventional film. In the synopsis its presented as an “independent and death defying satirical comedy” The director defines it as ‘repentist’, because everything happens suddenly (“de repente”, in Spanish) and he clarifies that he was interested in staging the shooting of a movie and showing some of the more unusual anecdotes that can occur during a shoot. In other words, Roche was once again exploring an aspect that he becomes fervently passionate about a “film behind the film”, as in his other feature, a Venezuelan classic, “The Moving Picture Man” (“El Cine Soy Yo”), shot more than 30 years ago.
The story and characters
John Loveland, real name Onofre Marimón (Carlos Antonio Leon) is a Venezuelan filmmaker hired by an American producer, William Waters (played by Luis Armando Roche himself) to direct a feature film in the Venezuelan Amazon. Several unfortunate events lead them to change the location and move to Caracas, making the new project in a parody of the original idea.
Given the lack of budget, the filmmakers are forced to emphasize the unreality of the set and exaggerate the defects. The synopsis mentions odd situations that trigger strange fatal circumstances, bringing the film close to the “values” of surrealism. “Death and accidents flutter about any film set. I lived through several accidents and two deaths during the filming of ‘The Moving Picture Man. How to conjure these truths? Only through art and the ability to laugh at us and of “reality”, says the director.
The plot of the film centers on the relationship between the producer and the director. It defines the course of action. We face a work portraying various characters in turn playing other characters. The first group or level deals with the principal film actors. On the other hand, appear in another level, figures like Andrea Machin, the film critic (El Goyo Reyna), Rêve, the assistant director (Daniela Bascopé), Jacinto Merengue, the police officer, (Francisco Denis), William, “The Special Defects Man ” (Dimas González), Ralph Butterfly, the insurance person, (Francisco” Paco “Alfaro) or the cooks (Liliana Melendez and Meche Barrios). On a third level, we see a cameraman, “The Making” (Ramon Aguirre), recording a making off of the main film, aimed at a third level in an imaginary narrative.
Roche took the essence of some of these characters from different sources and defined them conceptually. For example, Cristofue (José Antonio Rojas), is based on Harpo and Groucho Marx. The cameraman “The Making”, is the third eye. John is the director’s alter ego. Film critic, is a figure that is always present in this field, and Marvin (Luke Grande), is an actor and the essence of improvisation.
Roche says the film “influenced by the Italian Commedia dell’Arte, the French Grand Guignol Venezuelan Creole mischief, and especially, the mid-20th century burlesque films: the Keystone Cops, Duck Soup and Hellzapoppin”
Luis Armando through the looking glass
One of the main sources of Luis Armando Roche’s inspiration is Alice, the famous little girl from Lewis Carroll’s tales. The magic of the famous British author pervades certain aspects of the film. In fact, Roche believes that the experience with the film within a film allows a kind of transfer through the mirror, as in “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” Two of the characters in “Suddenly …” is a direct reference to that work: the cooks represent the Tweedledee and Tweedleedum twins of the fourth chapter of the book.
In play on words, Roche says “I wanted to convert the experience I had of making films in a mockery, a sort of “AIDEGART” (tragedy spelled backwards, dixit Stephen Sondheim), as only can manage those that have lived close to death”. This relates again to Carroll’s work in the passage where there is only possible to read a book of poetry through a mirror … the mirror shown here, an “open world”, as opposed to tragedy. “Suddenly …” aims to leave the door open to a free form of expression, where satire and absurdity are a constant.
“Suddenly …” was produced by Arsiete C.A. Alfarería Cinematografica S.A. who worked with the minimal resources they possessed. Marie Françoise Roche, Producer for Arsiete and wife of Luis Armando, qualifies the shoot as “magical” … “We decided to shoot the film with what we owned between the two production companies: small video cameras, sound equipment and eagerness. We did everything at home, the casting … everything, as a big family, with 20 people on the set … we had lots of fun, it was light, pleasant shoot, and everyone was involved in the clothing, props, food, sets A special mention must be made of Gerald Romer and Juan Carlos Vivas, who invented exceptional sets. “Subsequently, the production included completion financial support by the Centro Nacional Autónomo de la Cinematografía (CNAC
Luis Armando Roche vouches: “With great enthusiasm and ‘help from our friends’, dixit The Beatles, shot the film in 4 weeks and edited the first version in a month.”
A key element in Roche’s filmography is the music. The director is passionate about sounds, music, and is a composer and musical director. Roche composed several of the soundtrack’s lyrics. He also sang in: “Y tu que me dices?”, “Contraenvidia”, and “Somos Repentistas”. He also performs on the piano on “Golpetéo al piano”, and improvises on the harmonica in “Harmón y muñeco”. Roche emphasizes the relevant participation of Rodrigo Michelangeli and the Rayawana Musical Group.
Five decades of experience
In 1961 Roche began his work in the world of cinema. His background includes a short documentary filmed in France, and several documentaries in Venezuela, about science, art and music. In 1977 he wrote and directed his first feature film: “El Cine Soy Yo”(“The Moving Picture Man”), which would be followed by “El Secreto” (“The Secret”) (1988) and “Aire Libre”(1996). In 1999, he received the Venezuelan National Film Award. He continues with “Virtuosos” (2000), “Bach en Zaraza” (2001), and “Ópera Cósmica (2003), to return to the feature film “Yotama Se Va Volando” (Yotama Flies Away”) (2003). Most recently, he wrote and directed the documentary “Mi hermano Marcel” (“My brother Marcel”) (2011), then, “The making off suddenly, a film” (2011) and “Los Pacheco: Una Familia Salsosa” (2011).
According to Roche, in … “Suddenly…”, the dead are reborn, and another era begins and the movies and life continues”.
“De Repente, la Película” (Suddenly a movie) (2011)
Written and directed: Luis Armando Roche. Assistant Director: Rodrigo Michelangeli, Nadine Roche. Script person: Daniela Martinez. Executive Producers: Marie Françoise Barré Roche, Adriana Herrera Branger. Production Manager: Carlos Marchán. Production Assistant: Manuel Galvao Lamastre. Director of photography and camera operator: Damien Croce. Camera Assistant: Frank Molina. Stills: Mary Parra. Sound, technical coordination, editing, colorization and visual effects: Fermín Branger. Boom person: Luis Fernando Dona. Art Director: Juan Carlos Vivas. Design of the “false jungle”: Gerald Romer. Coordination and production art: Fernando Branger. Costumes and props: Elsy de Branger. Makeup: Yamilé Zorrilla. Chief Machinist: Martin Zanelli. Head of special effects: Ernesto Parilli. Electrician: Juan José Vargas. Catering: Elisa Zambrano.
Carlos Antonio Leon (Onofre Marimón, alias John Loveland-director), Daniela Bascopé (Rêve/assistant director), Luke Grande (Marvin “Bluto” Wakowski), Francisco Alfaro (Ralph Butterfly – Insurer), Meche Barrios (Cook 2), Francisco Denis (Jacinto Merengue – Policeman), Enrique Dorante (Indígena1), Thalia Falconi (Romal – Art Director), Dimas González (William “The Defectist”), Johanna Gonzalez (Eva), José Antonio (Flako) Rojas (Cristofué / Groucho / Harpo), Liliana Meléndez (Cook 1), Ramon Aguirre (The “Making”), Rodrigo Michelangeli (First assistant director), Francisco Morales (tenor), Hazael Muadi (Skinhead 2), Adriana Prieto ( Wanda Angustias Light), El Goyo Reyna, (Andrea Machin, film critic), Luis Armando Roche (Aesop, Shadow, and WW-Producer), Nadine Roche (Assistant Director 2), Zutkevin Suárez (Student), Richard Wildman ( Skinhead 1), Yamile Zorrilla (Makeup)
“De Repente”: El Goyo Reyna plays and sings, “a capella”. Words and music by Aldemaro Romero.
“Y tu que me dices?” Rodrigo Michelangeli music / lyrics Luis Armando Roche.
Can Can: From the operetta “Monsieur Choufleuri Vous Invite Chez Lui ” (Jacques Offenbach), Trasnocho Cultural, Caracas, Venezuela (2006) – At the piano: Gerardo Gerulewicz.
“Contraenvidia”: Music and interpreted: Luis Armando Roche.
“El Cine Soy Yo”: Words and music: Maurice Reyna.
“El Hilito”: Group Rawayana.
“Eva’s Slow Blues”: Improvisation on the piano by Laurent Lecuyer.
“Calypso Gold”: Convenezuela – Words and Music by Oswaldo Lares
“Golpetéo al piano”: “Prepared piano” – Improvisation by Luis Armando Roche.
“Gymnopedie No. 1”: Erik Satie (Olive Musique) Premiumbeat Music.
“Harmón y muñeco”: Improvisation on harmonica by Luis Armando Roche.
“La sopa está caliente”: improvised sequence on the set.
“Mechemística y el Theremin”: Improvised by Meche Barrios, accompanied by a theremin played by Rodrigo Michelangeli.
“Muñeco Celestial y Bongó” by Rodrigo Michelangeli.
“Música Para un Circo Intervenido” – (Sound Ideas) bongo, Rodrigo Michelangeli.
“NY and Pa Lante”: Improvised on the piano by Laurent Lecuyer.
“”Plomotango”: Music Federico Ruiz. (Courtesy Arsiete CA – Yotama Se Va Volando).
“Somos Repentistas”: Music, electric guitar and voice – Rodrigo Michelangeli. Lyrics, voice, kazoo, slide whistle – Luis Armando Roche. Voice: Marie Françoise Roche, Fermín Branger.
“Sonata for Violin and Piano in B flat major, K 454 of WA Allegretto “ by W.A. Mozart: Monique Duphile Piano, and Andrés González Piano, Violin.
“Strip My Tea”: Improvised by Laurent Lecuyer, piano.
“Suéltate: Maurice Reyna Music / Lyrics Luis Armando Roche – piano – Laurent Lecuyer – Voice: Tula Rojas
“Italian Trio”: Monsieur Choufleuri Vous Invite Chez Lui (Jacques Offenbach) from the operetta directed by Luis Armando Roche,Trasnocho Cultural (2006) – At the piano Gerardo Gerulewicz.