Carlos Saura born in Aragon, and one of the leading light of the 1960s New Spanish Cinema, returns to his homeland in his latest musical “J: Beyond Flamenco,” which World Premiere plays in Toronto’s Masters section.

Saura is a man on a mission. Catching attention with his debut, “Los Golfos” (1959), over a near-50 year career span, he has portrayed the suffering and dreams of youth living on the big city margins (“Deprisa, Deprisa,” 1980), the hurt and confusion of childhood traumas (“Raise Ravens, 1975”), the merits of filmmaking (“Elisa, My Love,” 1977) and Spain’s halting attempts to emerge from its past (“Mama Turns One Hundred,” 1978).

From 1980’s with the marvelous “Blood Wedding,” a filmed dance adaptation of the classic Lorca stage play, Saura has developed an aesthetic arsenal to film dance and song: Split and video screens, mirrors, silhouetted figures behind giant transparent backdrops, primary colors. For “J: BEYOND FLAMENCO” Saura brings all this to play, including his own paintings, to record and argue the artistic potential of the jota and its closeness to other music in Spain, such as flamenco. Above all, Saura aims to suggest the inclusiveness of jota as popular art. Adopting the format of choreographed tableaux, “J: BEYOND FLAMENCO” runs an extraordinary gamut in the age, origin and expertise of its multifarious performers and performances, climaxing in a village fiesta scene.

In view of the Toronto World Premiere of “J: BEYOND FLAMENCO”, John Hopewell from Variety fielded an interview with Carlos Saura on his forty-first feature film. Here we post part of this interesting interview.

John Hopewell: Jota is part of a whole film lineage – “Flamenco,” “Tango,” and “Fados.” But it sets itself apart. There’s an emphasis is on inclusiveness. It’s permed by a specialist, Miguel Angel Bernal, his eight-year-old-or-so students, an elderly couple, young pro dancers, a while village. Could you comment?
Carlos Saura: I’m trying to move forward along an enriching path in musicals. Every film is a new gamble, though made with a style that began developing years ago. These movies have neither plot nor story, though they are linked via a variety of performance, scenery and lighting. But there is also an attempt to renovate and update jota. To do this, I have had the best artists in every one of its specialties.

JH: One of the film’s highlights for me is the dance between Sara Baras and Miguel Angel Berna. It is not fusion: She dances flamenco, he dances jota. But they are compatible. Flamenco for a long time has been accepted as an art form. One of the goals of “J: Beyond Flamenco” appears to be to show that jota has little to envy compared to flamenco, except perhaps in terms of that recognition.
CS: The jota, like so many other things in Spain, has been forgotten, although it is still present in popular celebrations and especially in Aragon. It is known for its influence on some aspects of flamenco. The most important thing for me was to open up new pathways for traditional jota, and construct bridges between jota and other dances and music better known outside of Spain.

JH: Another facet of the film is the amazing variety of performances, in styles, tempos, artists, and instruments. Does that reflect on the flexibility of the jota and its influence on other dances?
CS: It plumbs the similarities between jota and other musical cultures, the influences of the East and especially the Arab world that occupied Spain for more than seven centuries. Also there are French and Italian influences as well as other Spanish schools of dance, not only flamenco, but the classical Spanish school of dance, boleros, and the old fandangos.

JH: As someone born in Aragon, was the choice of some songs influenced by jotas youhad heard as a child? And has it been a more emotional experience going back to the songs and dances of your native region to some extent, than when you documented and staged music other countries and regions?
CS: For me doing something in and about Aragon was always something I had pending after having made seven musicals with no narrative. Since childhood, I have seen people dancing the jota, my mother and sister at home, for instance. Every year there are gatherings and dances in Aragon. I have always admired the jota. And, yes, it’s very emotional to recover rhythms that you have lived since your childhood and discover new possibilities that the jota has to offer.

Source: Variety– John Hopewell

The original review: Click here!

We wish to congratulate to congratulate Carlos Saura for his amazing work, and wish to thank to Variety for the interview!

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