Cult film legend Alejandro Jodorowsky burst on to the art film world in the late 1960s with a style of cinema that offended audience members and frustrated film programmers. His debut film Fando and Lis premiered at the Acapulco Film Festival in 1968 and caused a riot in the mostly Catholic country of Mexico; Jodorowsky received death threats and the film was banned due to its subversion and, some would say, perversion of holy imagery. His next film, 1970's El Topo (The Mole), takes on spirituality in a different way, reveling in the violence of a spaghetti western. A theater programmer in New York City found it played best at midnight, and "midnight movies" were born.
Jodorowsky has produced a smattering of films since, but stopped dabbling in film after his most mainstream movie, 1990's The Rainbow Thief, which starred Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif. He later disowned that film as part of his oeuvre, and spent most of the following 20 years writing. He has now returned with a new film based on his book inspired by his true-life upbringing in Chile, The Dance of Reality, currently in post-production.
This Sunday, the interactive media industry festival Filmgate will end its three-day festival at the Miami Beach Cinematheque with a screening of El Topo introduced by Jodorowsky and his eldest son (who also appeared in the movie as a 7-year-old boy) via Skype.
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Yesterday, Jodorowsky took some time out from his work on The Dance of Reality to respond to some questions New Times sent via email. This conversation is translated from Spanish: How do you feel about a cosmopolitan city like Miami holding a retrospective screening of your work? ........ I am not what I was, I am not what you think I am, I am what I am. A retrospective is what I was. Had I not tamed my ego, I'd be interested what I was in the history of cinema, but as I live in the living moment, i.e. the present, neither the past nor the future moves me... Today, I am nothing but in progress, continually changing. If you ask me my name, I will say call me "cloud." If I add Miami, I'd incorporate go -- "go" in English, as in Mi-ami-go, mi amigo. In short, we do not live in countries but the planet Pangea. All cities are cosmopolitan.
The second thing I'm curious about is what made you decide to put your son Brontis in El Topo at such a young age? This is one of my favorite movies, and I have no children, but I have always been curious about how the relationship was on the set during the writing and filming. ...... As you have not had children, you do not know what it is to feel the love of a father. That love is as strong as the love of a mother. I chose Brontis because he was of the age that I needed the child to be: 7 years. My son was the innocent beauty that I always wanted. As I was a kind and understanding father, my son had great pleasure being with me. Anyway, your question has only one answer: our relationship was normal, a healthy relationship between a son and father who love each other. Do you consider yourself a surrealist? Myself ... I do not like labels. How has your style of filmmaking changed through the years? How would you describe the film you are working on now? Could it be described as genuinely "Psychomagical"? ... To change my style, I should have a style, which is a form of repetition. The rivers do not repeat themselves. Kindly compare me to the flow of a river. Each of my films are different. I am not a Hollywood sausage maker. I would describe the film that I'm working on as Art [with a capital A] that won't make money. I am tired with this prostitutional industry that considers a film great because it produces millions of dollars. I still believe that film is the most comprehensive and profound of all the arts. The Dance of Reality, which I am finishing now, cannot be described with any label. It's just art. And so, if you like your two words: It is "truly personal." Want to read the original interview in Spanish? Click here. "The Alchemist: Alejandro Jodorowsky" kicks off Sunday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. with a live introduction by Jodorowsky and his son via Skype and a screening of El Topo (1970). On Feb. 7 at 8:30 p.m. Fando y Lis (1968) will screen. Holy Mountain (1973) screens Feb. 21 at 8:30 p.m. The festival ends on Feb. 28 with Santa Sangre (1989) at 7 p.m. Visit mbcinema.com for details and tickets. Follow Hans Morgenstern on Twitter @indieethos. Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.