“You have to go where the story is,” said German filmmaker Werner Herzog at a press conference at the Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) this afternoon after sighing because the filmmaking workshop he is going to teach in the Canary Islands from October 22 to November 2, be it in Lanzarote and not in La Palma, where to be now “would be wonderful and exciting.” He added: “I know we cannot change islands, but I would love to go.” Director of Aguirre, the wrath of God or Fitzcarraldo, has expressed his inveterate fascination for volcanoes, on which he has shot works such as La Soufrière: waiting for the inevitable disaster (1977), dedicated to the eruption on the island of Guadalupe, in the Antilles, or Inside the volcano: a journey to the depths of hell (2016), with the volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer. “There is a quality of spectacle in volcanoes, of beauty and violence”, Herzog (Munich, 79 years old) pointed out, who recalled that “the entire planet encloses a mass of incandescent magma under our feet that can come out from any place and at any time, like on La Palma ”.
The filmmaker explained that he is currently preparing a film “that is neither documentary nor fiction” about the French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, always the first to arrive at the eruptions, killed by the pyroclastic flow of Mount Unzen in Japan. in 1991, and that they left 300 hours of footage about their work. The movie, Fire within, Herzog conceives it as “a musical requiem”.
Herzog has answered the question of EL PAÍS as to whether he has made peace with the late Klaus Kinski over time, whoever was his fetish author and – he himself told My intimate enemy (1999) – his nightmare. “Four decades ago I made the last movie with him, he is my prehistory. We believe in conflict and we achieve things of great intensity. It was a unique experience and I have no regrets ”. To which he added with a wink: “Every gray hair I have I call Kinski.” That he is habitually associated with disproportionate characters such as Lope de Aguirre, Fitzcarraldo, Francisco Manoel da Silva (Green cobra) or the Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) of Corrupt lieutenant, has said that the condition of being larger than life and being on the verge of madness in any case is his characters and not his. And he has relativized that they are only a small part of the many characters that appear in his more than 70 films.
The director is in Barcelona to present Werner Herzog: filming a strange project, the course in Lanzarote promoted by the Catalan production company La Selva Ecosistema Creativo-Acceleradora de Cine, during which, over 11 accelerated days, 50 filmmakers will experience all the phases of the cinematographic creative process under the guidance of the author of films such as The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Woyzek or Nosferatu, to build your own movies. Herzog will also give a master class at the Serializados festival and tomorrow he will visit the Barcelona Film School and in the afternoon he will present his documentary at the Filmoteca de Catalunya Nomad about Bruce Chatwin (from which he shot Green cobra about his novel The Viceroy of Ouidah).
Training and opportunities to diversify stories
The co-directors of the La Selva collective that promotes the course project, Marc Vila and Liliana Díaz, have explained at the CCCB (where Herzog has already been as a guest at the Kosmopolis festival in 2017 and last year in virtual format) that they are a cooperative to promote film projects with filmmakers from different countries, although they are based in Barcelona. Its objective is to provide training and opportunities, democratize cinema and diversify its stories. The course with Herzog, in collaboration with the Lanzarote Film Festival, takes place on the island because of the filmmaker’s special relationship with the place, where he shot in 1968 The dwarves also started small (1970). Herzog, in the wake of Abbas Kiarostami, already collaborated in the initiative in Cuba in 2017 and in the Peruvian jungle in 2018.
The director of the Lanzarote festival, Javier Fuentes, for his part, stressed that Herzog is “almost a prodigal son of Lanzarote” and has praised the figure of the filmmaker as the author of “unforgettable images” in the history of cinema. Herzog has said that he feels great emotion when he thinks that he will return to the island, which he considers “a good place for a workshop, because everyone who participates will be out of their own landscape ”. In relation to volcanology, he explained that “perhaps, if we are lucky, the island of Lanzarote may come back to life with some fire coming out of it”.
Asked why he makes movies, he answered that because he had not learned to do anything else. “Maybe I could be an athlete, I liked doing ski jumps, flying, but I gave it up when a friend suffered a near-fatal accident,” added the author of The great ecstasy of the wood sculptor Steiner (1974). “I really have no answer to why I make films, films come to me with great coherence and I have to make them, I do my duty as a good soldier would do.”
Of the people in the course he has said that he does not know them and that he is prepared for any surprise. “For years there has been an avalanche of young people who have come to me to learn, which flatters me; I listen to them and try to understand their aspirations and their problems. The one I offer is not a teaching ex cathedraOf course they will have to make a movie, not me, they will have to roll up their sleeves and create something. And it’s not a joke, they will. I assure you that everyone will finish that movie. ” He added that he hopes they have a different vision from his, “it would be horrible to create clones of myself, they are artists, you have to let them breathe and start their creativity.”
As for the series, he has confessed that he has a project “in hibernation”, but for the moment he continues his usual path of making individual films, this year three projects in total, one with his eldest son Rudolf. The series seem like an opportunity to do long things, like The Karamazov brothers, great epic things or recovering works by Tólstoi, “not everything has to be ten-minute clips of TikTok”. On the future of cinema, he has pointed out that he does his job and never complains. But that doesn’t mean I’m optimistic, and I’m not a prophet either. I see some elements that change like the streaming and I’m not against it, I’m very curious about how all this will evolve. A lot of my filmography can be seen nowadays in Montana or Bangladesh even in places where there are no cinemas and that seems fine to me ”.
He has also referred to the documentary by Madrid-born Pablo Maqueda Dear werner, that goes through the places that the German filmmaker went through when, in the seventies, he walked from Munich to Paris in honor of the German film critic Lotte Evans. “It is good to walk, following my steps or not, he asked me and I gave him advice, I encouraged him to walk.” And about having played a villain in The Mandalorian, the series that expands the universe of Star Wars, It has given him many satisfactions. “In a show with very young fans of Star wars when my name came out there was a shout of joy. It moved me a lot, it was like going out to play at the Camp Nou and for everyone to know you, something very new for me ”.
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