For the first time in his life, actor Brontis Jodorowsky will have a few days to get to know Miami. Speaking via Skype from his home in Paris, the son of the legendary cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky says he has only ever known the city from within Miami International Airport when he made a connection to Ecuador many years ago. Now, he will be spending a few nights on South Beach, as he plays host to several films playing at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, as part of the art house's Speaking In Cinema series.
Brontis admits that he brings some baggage when it comes to his perception of Miami. "They say it's full of old people that retire in Miami because it's warm and all that, but they all look young because it's the paradise of plastic surgery. That's all the clichés that we have," he says. "And I watched four seasons of Dexter, which takes place in Miami, so that's quite nice, to take another look at it. And, I think, if I'm not wrong, Iggy Pop lives over there," he adds with a laugh, "so it mustn't be so bad. It must have some rock 'n' roll thing."
See also: Brontis Jodorowsky on His Father's New Film The Dance of Reality
A little redemption for Miami in the form of Iggy Pop. That's so Jodorowsky.
Redemption is indeed a big deal for Jodorowsky. The new film by his father, The Dance of Reality, is all about that. Based on a memoir written by the director and released only in Spanish in 2001, the film re-envisions the elder Jodorowsky's life growing up the son of a shopkeeper in the seaside town of Tocopilla, Chile, in the 1930s. In the movie, the child version of the director suffers much abuse at the hands of his father Jaime. The director often appears in the movie, as a sort of omniscient narrator, comforting his child version, played by Jeremias Herskovits, who does not seem aware of the presence of the older version of himself. Brontis takes the role of the father.
Brontis says he did not take the role of Jaime lightly, and he delivers an intense performance. The younger Jodorowsky carries much of the film on his shoulders, as the director sends his "father" through a fictional journey of redemption and sacrifice. Brontis remembers coming to terms with playing Jaime after his father approached him for the part.
"When he proposed for me to play that part he said to me, 'OK, you must prepare very, very well because you're going to play your grandfather,' and I answered to him, 'No, I'm not going to play my grandfather. I'm going to play a character in the script because I don't know my grandfather. I have to go into your vision, your world and play the character in the script and see what he becomes,' and so the process of healing those resentments of a childhood. I think it was the best way to go into that because it doesn't matter if it's the real grandfather or not."
The younger Jodorowsky explains The Dance of Reality is more than a reconciliation of the past for his father. He says memory, like an edited movie and the limits of a film frame, is selective. In a process of healing, his father is reframing his memories with an abusive father for the sake of the family.
"If you don't solve the things of the past, you just pass the things to the next generation," explains Jodorowsky, a family man himself, with two daughters. "Your responsibility in order to heal is for yourself, but it's also for the next generations. Whatever you don't heal in this life, your son, your children will have to heal it, so that's the way we see it. Art is art, but it's also a healing process."
Brontis and his father are very close. The younger Jodorowsky took his first acting role at 6-and-a-half years old alongside his father in the second feature film by the director, 1970's El Topo. After acting in several other films as a child, even winning the Mexican equivalent of the Oscar for a child actor, Brontis quit acting as a teen. He soon re-discovered it, however. "Tigers are what they are because they are born with stripes," he says.
When he appears at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, besides presenting The Dance of Reality and Jodorowsky's Dune, Brontis will also present Táu, the rarely seen feature debut by Mexican director Daniel Castro Zimbron, which stars Brontis. They shot the film in 2012 in the Mexican desert of San Luis Potosí. It's the same desert where Brontis and his father shot El Topo. He considers his return to that place "magicial." He says, "We were in the desert for three, four weeks, so we had no radio, no Internet, no TV. No contact with anything, with civilization, so it gave me a different appreciation of time. Time started to feel wider."
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Marking his first lead role in a movie, Táu is special to Jodorowsky, and he's happy to see it play at the Miami Beach Cinematheque for a one-night-only screening alongside The Dance of Reality. "Obviously, it's very different from The Dance of Reality, but I think there's a link between the two movies because both of them are radical," he notes. "Both of them are quite pure, very honest. They both speak about a deep, profound human experience."
Brontis Jodorowsky will appear at the Miami Beach Cinematheque to present The Dance of Reality in person on June 14. On June 15, he will introduce Jodorowsky's Dune and Táu. On Tuesday, June 17, at 7 p.m., he, Village Voice film critic Michael Atkinson and Miami Herald film critic Rene Rodriguez will share the stage at MBC in the second installment of the Knight Foundation-sponsored series "Speaking In Cinema" to discuss these films and other works by Jodorowsky. A meet-and-greet party at the Sagamore Hotel ends the night. Tickets for each screening and the event: Adult $11. Indie Film Club Miami Member $8. MBC Member $8. Student or Senior with ID $9.
Follow Hans Morgenstern on Twitter @HansMorgenstern.