Pablo Mazzolo. Mythical territories

Jun 3, 2018 | Interviews

Pablo Mazzolo (Photo: María Meseguer)

When I started at university we would work mostly on video but thinking about working on film. Video was not a semi-professional medium, it was used in television. Perhaps when Dogma began in the 90s it began to be used in another way. 16mm was already a big medium for us, an expensive one, so almost from the beginning I used Super 8 and made fiction, looking for an unconventional narrative although it was not experimental nor it was independent cinema, it was a little on the edge. Then I started looking for other ways because I felt uncomfortable with that cinema, I wanted to discover a new language and then there was very little access to experimental cinema. Internet was starting, the movies could not be downloaded easily but the texts arrived. I read for example the texts of Jonas Mekas, I who thought I was a movie buff, and yet there were 50 directors that I did not know. While still working on film and video. Then there was a screening of Claudio Caldini at the Mamba, where he showed Wavelength, by Michael Snow, where my head clicked. I thought: here is something else. I spent several years working alone until I found myself with the same Caldini, with Pablo Marín and other filmmakers who were also in another type of search. That’s when I started to give a shape to what I was doing, that’s the origin of El Quilpo sueña cataratas.
On the one hand it was a travel diary, I did not want to film “well”, I was a little tired of image aestheticism. I was trying to find an image that caught my attention in a way, but I did not want to respect the basic patterns of composition. I also had the idea of filming the course of Quilpo River from the source to the sea, that was the first precept with which I started filming, and finally I realized that I was filming a sacred territory of the Comechingones, and the myth began to give a little structure to the movie. In that sense I am a bit classic, in the sense of classicism in art, the myth that structures.
I was also doing some interviews with natives of the area, what the Spaniards called comechingones in a slightly insulting way. It means “he who eats earth”, because they lived in caves, in reality they are called Henia-Kamiare. In the interviews there was something interesting about a mythology of the river, a river that dreams of itself that I do not know if it will be true. That was the end of how this idea of a river that dreamed of cataracts was formed. So it has some fiction, but what we can say about these people is also something fictional.
I always work with a first camera cut, which is what I have. I made this film by contact, I made a contact table where I exhibited the film, and I was photographing it in different parts, and then I edited and cut it. Many times I pass them to video, I edit them, and then I go and cut the film. Apart in the contact edition I put crystals, different old glasses that have strange shapes and put masks and also with the same contact printer (which was something very homemade that’s why the film is so dirty), I printed with filters, I painted the filters and printed them directly on the film.
It is made in the same geographical space as El Quilpo…, but I did not film the same places. There I was also interested in a specific issue, which is the collective suicide of some 1800 Indians to resist the Spaniards in 1573, by throwing themselves from a hill that is now called Colchoquí, but then it had a name related to the God of sadness, it was a Sacred place of the Comechingones. That was the most important annihilation of the Henia-Kamiare, and from there they were very scattered, very little is known about that tribe. The space is then filmed as a large comechingón cemetery.
I was interested in filming the impossible, I am very interested in finding something I do not know how to do it, I feel that it awakens me, it motivates me to find different forms.
I filmed this movie thinking that I would have an optical printer to work on, I have done it but I could never completely finish it with the optical printer because the laboratory where I worked disappeared. Then these masks that I had thought I started to try them live, and to work live. While I was filming it I was also thinking that this could work as a performance, so both remained, the open one made live and the other in the form of a short film.