1/20 The Film – Cinema for a Brand New Generation
I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to what draws me to films so deeply. Or, more precisely, to certain specific films. It’s definitely the feelings those movies inspire in me but it also has to do with the life-changing aspect of a project. When I was a little girl, I remember watching some films and coming out of the theater with newfound excitement, and what I can only describe today as a refreshed joie-de-vivre. And even though I have grown a lot in years since those days, I still expect a movie to add an extra bounce to my step when I’m finished watching it. Which does not always mean it has to be about romance, roses and kittens. Rather, it can be a film like 1/20 -- A Punk Rock Romance Portraiture of Present-Day America, which shows a different way of looking at the close world around us and in the process inspires me to be better, do better.
Marcel Proust wrote “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes” and indeed, something as politically charged and media driven as the 2008 US Presidential election can also be seen as a romantic depiction of the people who drove Obama to the top post, the same generation which — within its Arab counterparts — is now also responsible for the newfound democracy efforts in Egypt. Whether the older generations want to admit it or not, these days politics, entertainment and fashion are all driven by those who know how to use Facebook and Twitter to their full potential.
CNN, the New York Times and even some of the most notorious online news sites can’t possibly reach as many people as the communities of social networks that are available all over the world, in all different languages, for nearly everyone to use. It’s as if this already small enough world of ours got even tinier. We are all “friends” and we can choose to “like” a president, a film or a revolution with the click of our mouse. As a friend stated so simply and easily “we expected Obama to be like Michael Jordan, but he’s only done as well as a regular player on the Nets”, which is a great — albeit not the most P.C. way — to look at how much was expected of our first African American President, mostly because of all the online hype.
While 1/20 The Movie finalizes the deals which will bring this “Film for the people, by the people” to its audiences later this year, I did catch up with three of the creative forces behind this project. Berwin, the producer and head of C Malo Producciones, Gerardo Del Castillo Ramirez the director and Bruno Zaffora, the assistant director of 1/20 The Movie all spoke to me via Skype, after 11 PM their time, from a street in Bon Pastor, a Gypsy/Arab neighborhood in Barcelona. It was the perfect setting, time, set of characters and conversation for a film that is just so interesting and fresh, it CAN’T be overlooked.
In his director’s statement Gerri, as he affectionately known, wrote “My motivation to make this movie was to break the molds of comedy, individual archetypes, and representations of behavior and family. The objective was to build a rebellious film, very independent, but at the same time innocent, which rescues the lethargy of living in the periphery where the most interesting thing a person can do is to cut her hair into an intricate mohawk or build an inescapable internal universe to escape violence and total alienation.”
The film’s creative forces give the synopsis of the film as follows “We are the 1/20 generation, and we have run away from our teachers. 1/20 is a punk rock romance portraiture of present day America. This teen/coming-of-age film utilizes iconic American imagery to examine the people’s reaction to the campaign and inauguration of Barack Obama. On 9/11 part of America died, but on 1/20 it was reborn.
Six iconic American characters from the 1/20 generation converge on Washington DC the night before the inauguration of Barack Obama. Their experiences reflect the zeitgeist of our times, and we learn that politics are less valuable than friendships and love conquers all.
The 1/20 generation is restless on the eve of the Obama presidential campaign.”
I asked Gerri how did the film “begin” — come about if you will. He answered “Berwin wanted to do something political, he met Matthue Roth — a young novelist from NYC known for depicting this 1/20 generation — and then contacted me to direct it. We are pretty lucky guys that we are all connected in this work.” Berwin added that “Art Basel in December 2008, after the election, had a significant presence of art featuring Obama and the Inauguration which was the initial inspiration for the project”. And if the film seems like a documentary type of project it’s not, it’s actually “all fiction and fully scripted. There are some parts that are documentary, but the setting is fiction. We tried to get a screenplay from someone who is actually a part of this generation and Matthue is also very interested in multicultural ideas.” Gerri continued.
Berwin turned out to be the able translator on a few of the more complicated points by Gerri and Bruno, but also the perfect voice of a producer who is clear about what he wants for the film and knows how to get it. About plans here forward for 1/20 he disclosed “we are submitting the film to indie festivals, searching for someone who reacts to the meaning of the film. We need to connect to an organization that wants to say what we want to say, that if people all collaborate together you don’t need a huge amount of money to do something good, worthwhile.” Then he continued “the film festivals are the first step. We are talking to some producers in Hollywood who have ideas of what this film could do, from a financial POV. At the end of the day, the media and the industry is focused on the bottom line. Right now the film that was completed is a 90 minutes theatrical version… One producer we are working with in Hollywood is interested in maybe making it into a made-for-TV film in the period running up to the next election. He would like to see a shorter, less artistic cut, more linear, more commercial.”
The absolute essence of the film lies in this anecdote Bruno shared at the end of our talk “last night, a few of us sat in an apartment here in Bon Pastor, without heat and hot water, watching the theatrical version of the film on a laptop owned by C Malo Producciones because that’s what we have, in keeping with the spirit of the film.” The spirit of 1/20 The Movie, a film on a journey that has just begun and definitely one to watch!
All images and videos courtesy of C Malo Producciones