Rebvelados: the kind of cinema that helps me to understand the world
Cineteca of Madrid is well-known for its dedication to non-fiction films. The main aim of this institution is to promote and give visibility to a kind of audiovisual productions that distance from mainstream industry. Last November 4th, the projection of the documentary Una vez fuimos salvajes, by the Spanish filmmaker Carmen Bellas took place in its famous Sala Azcona. Around thirty students attended to the projection as a part of Rebvelados, a program that aims to awake the interest of young people for a different kind of cinema.
“The purpose of Rebvelados is to show that there are other ways of creating documentary films and that there are other ways of working and being in life” said Miriam Herrero, coordinator of cultural and educative activities in Cineteca, during some of her interventions along the session. She works on the projection organization along with Beatriz Bartolomé and Gonzalo de Pedro Amatria, director of Cineteca. Miriam is today in charge of presenting the movie before it starts and also of moderating and introducing the afterward’ film discussion. Her function is to guide the students in their cinematic experience and to help them have a deeper insight of the movie. “It is not about directing the gaze of the assistants but rather about having certain common viewpoints upon which we can set a more detailed discussion” tells to us Beatriz. She is one of the person in charge of choosing the movies for the sessions of the program. “We always work as a team” she says. This team takes into consideration different factors, including the availability of the movie, the theme or the possibilities that they have to connect with students and to relate to the contents they are studying. The film chat is meant to be fruitful and generate discussion.
This time, the film projected is Una vez fuimos salvajes, a social documentary that portrays the life of a Madrid’s marginal neighborhood population. Accompanying Miriam during the film discussion is Carmen Bellas, the documentary director. She shares her experience making the film with the students — “I hadn’t made any documentaries previously, and I only had the idea of how to work in fiction” — and explains to them some of the decisions she took during her creative process. This documentary, released in 2017, and has won different awards in film festivals including the Caracola de Oro in Alcances festival. The project was initiated by a collective of architects that asked Bellas to film a portrayal of the peripheral neighborhood of Madrid, San Cristóbal de los Ángeles, in which these architects were running a project to engage people through different cultural activities. In the end, the documentary became a very personal project. “We realized that this project was more about me than about this concrete neighborhood”. The students could ask all kinds of questions and Bellas answered without any problem, clarifying her doubts and explaining with all detail.
After the film discussion, we have the opportunity to chat with Paula Galán, one of the students that attended the session. “I would have liked to see it again because I would understand some of the nuances that the director explained to us” she says. Paula is a student in the module of Video DJ and Sound in IES Puerta Bonita. It is her first time in Cineteca and she would like to be a professional in the audiovisual field. She shares with us her reflections on what she gained from the projection: “It taught me that one can become a professional working on a different kind of cinema — non-commercial — and make people aware of how society can be seen through other perspectives”.
This film program is aimed at students from 11 to 18 years old who are in secondary or high school and its main purpose is precisely increasing their awareness and critical thought towards images and showing that there are other possible perspectives through which one can represent reality. According to Beatriz Bartolomé, coordinator of cultural and educative activities in Cineteca, media literacy is not enough introduced in Spanish education system and, although audiovisual resources are used, a critical perspective lacks. “It is precisely at school where we have to watch a different type of audiovisual productions, because on TV we already watch everything else” reflects Estrella Vázquez, an Image and Sound teacher. Estrella used to go with her students to DocumentaMadrid film festival each year when she discovered this program, Rebvelados. Today she is here at Cineteca with her group of students of IES Puerta Bonita. One of them, Priscila Lamigueiro, confesses that the documentary surprised her quite a lot. “It shows the reality of things and not just what you would like to see. It doesn’t create a fake expectative of life”.
This is precisely what Cineteca expects from students to reflect on. Beatriz explains about the real importance of developing a critical gaze in nowadays’ society in which “screens and audiovisual information mediate almost every aspect in our lives; form public to private ones”. We should be aware, more than ever — she says — that images “contain specific ideals and ideas”. Having a critical gaze wouldn’t consist, according to her, of completely distrusting images, but rather about being suspicious and understanding that “behind an image there is an intention”. The films that are chosen for Rebvelados, as its name suggests, are “at the same time rebellious and revealing”, Beatriz says, and usually distance from commercial mainstream cinema. One of the students that attended to the session, Raúl Afonso, reflects on this when we ask him about the kind of cinema that he likes to consume. “I think it is good to implement non-commercial cinema as something normal. It’s good that people go beyond their Hollywood comfort zone”. Both Raúl and her partner Paula coincide that “art breaks walls” and that it serves to “learn and understand”.
The idea that non-commercial cinema should be promoted also comes up during the film discussion when Bellas explains her working method for Una vez fuimos salvajes. “I work well as a technician, but I am pretty much in fight with the traditional working system because I am a fan of horizontal and collaborative work”. After listening to this, Miriam points out that “it’s a critique of commercial mainstream cinema and of a working logic that is very strict and hierarchical”. In a way, Carmen Bellas’ presence in today’s session is very inspiring to these students, who might end up becoming professionals. Also according to their teacher, Estrella, audiovisual education should be taught mainly through experience. “Here they see that other possibilities exist. There are other people that are brave enough and that carry out personal projects that might end up winning an award in a festival”. Raúl and other students shared with us their thoughts after the projection. “It allows us to see that we can achieve whatever we want if our dream is to direct films or to produce them”. Both Beatriz and Estrella coincide that the experience is very positive for young people. “When I bring my students to this kind of projections, I see a real change regarding to their motivation, mainly”. “It is fundamental for them”.