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La ficción del documento by Rojo Robles

Eighty Grados


http://www.80grados.net/your-day-is-my-night-la-ficcion-del-documento/

por | 22 de Marzo de 2013

La cita era para las 8:00pm y el studio de Sofía Gallisá en Fort Green, Brooklyn empezó a llenarse de amigos puertorriqueños. Éramos cerca de diez. Habíamos sido convocados por la cineasta y profesora, Lynne Sachs. Lynne quería conocer nuestras historias de cama, grabarlas y estudiarlas. Sofía, su colaboradora, confiaba en nuestro poder narrativo y extrañezas, de ahí la invitación.

La discusión fue entretenida y alegre. Se habló de dormir rodeado de almohadas por todas partes, de intolerancia al ruido, de estar envuelto en sábanas como momias, de pelearse por el lado de la cama con la pareja, de idiosincracias de limpieza; loqueras y rituales de cada cual al momento de acostarse.

Una semana después me enteré de que aquel encuentro fue una audición y que tres de nosotros (Veraalba Santa, Pedro Leopoldo Sánchez y yo) habíamos sido seleccionados para participar en el proyecto de Lynne, Your Day is my Night. En mi caso como escritor.

Una vez me reuní con Lynne me informó que simultáneo a nosotros un grupo de chinos fueron igualmente entrevistados/audicionados para el filme que se empezaba a gestar: un documental híbrido acerca de las camas itinerantes en los apartamentos de Chinatown. Parte de mi tarea fue ir con ella a realizar nuevas entrevistas con los seleccionados.  Mi misión sería la de co-escribir unos monólogos basados en lo escuchado.

“My way of filmmaking is all about process – Tell me who you are and I’ll tell you what I’m trying to do and let’s work on something together. I was taken by a Chinatown activist to the Lin Sing Association on Mott Street, where he told me I could find willing performers. Most of Lin Sing’s members are retired, so they have time. I happened to come during a karaoke contest. The place was packed. I said I am auditioning –as a documentary filmmaker I usually say I’m interviewing– I am making a film about beds. I didn’t explain any more than that. About 40 people signed up to come to audition and 26 people showed up. Working with a Chinese translator, I interviewed every one of them but I only asked them about one thing. I said, “Do you have any interesting stories about beds in your life? Did you ever have to share a bed? Did you ever live in a really crowded apartment where there were many beds? I taped the interviews with these 26 people. It ended up that seven people actually had these stunning and haunting stories to tell me.“ -Lynne Sachs on Asian Cinevision, Cinema Spotlight: Your Day is my Night

Las historias de los siete chinos, cuatro hombres y tres mujeres, se distanciaban bastante de lo que había escuchado o contado con los puertorriqueños. En sus historias no había mucho espacio para celebrar la cotidianidad o las selecciones de comodidad. Todas estas historias remitían a pasados devastadores, separaciones familiares, traumas, violencia y eventos horribles que finalmente llevaban a experiencias de imigración. La mayoría como hijos de comerciantes fueron sacudidos de mala manera por la revolución. Debieron abandonar el país. En una primera instancia el hacinamiento en Chinatown, New York, tenía la pinta de progreso.

“Interestingly, the disturbing stories that you hear in the film surprised Jenifer Lee, one of our translators. She’s from Taiwan originally and she said that she’d never heard about so many terrible things happening as early as the 1940s in China. Things like gangs breaking into someone’s house and beating up parents in front of their children. People were not really talking about this kind of violence in history very much. Still, most of our performers did bring their kids to the show. To me, this is important, because they were proud as performers and a lot of them wanted to reveal their tragic stories to their own families.” Ibid.

En esa primera etapa de atento escucha en pos de un texto se me presentaron varios retos. Primeramente andar a ciegas en el laberinto idiomático en el cual me había metido. Los entrevistados solo hablaban mandarín. Sus historias pasaban por el sedazo de una traductora. Sabía que algo siempre se me escapaba: un matiz, una entonación, un comentario de doble sentido, quién sabe. No había manera de identificar los aspectos emotivos del habla o de corroborar cuan fiel era la traductora.

De este escuchar sin referencia yo tomaba notas en inglés que luego condensaba y le daba algo de tono cinemático. Lynne escribía por su cuenta y luego yo editaba ambos textos en una versión casi final. El proceso se invertía y se les hacía una traducción en mandarín para que ellos se aprendieran o improvisaran, como terminó siendo el caso, a partir de sus monólogos. En todo ese recorrido de capas lingüísticas se quedaba la sensación de un algo incomunicado, lost in translation.

El siguiente reto consistió en introducir a los personajes puertorriqueños de Veraalba y Pedro en el mundo de Chinatown. Lynne no estaba interesada en repetir el proceso de filtrar la realidad y contar una versión estudiantil y artística del inmigrante en NY. Su interés era el de crear una ficción acerca de unos boricuas de clase baja que terminan viviendo entre estos señores chinos. Los personajes servirían como catalizadores para las historias chinas.  La película era tanto una propuesta documental como un invento de ficción. Había que nadar en ambas aguas.

Muchas preguntas surgieron: ¿Cómo manejar la yuxtaposición de ambos acercamientos? ¿Cómo serle fiel a la cruda historia china? ¿Cómo mantener una credibilidad con estos puertorriqueños de la ficción? ¿Deberíamos enfocarnos también en las dificultades de la emigración puertorriqueña? ¿Es este filme el foro indicado para ello?

El trabajo con Lynne propone retos muy interesantes pero rara vez conclusiones o métodos fáciles. Su acercamiento como cineasta da muestra de su visión poética del mundo. Una visión personal y de referencias eclécticas que toma tiempo descubrir, pero estimulante y sui generis sin duda. Su proceso fílmico señala a las prácticas de directores como Jean-Luc Godard oTerrence Malick, quienes privilegian la improvisación actoral y visual y la intertextualidad. Fue en la misma filmación y posteriormente en la sala de edición, donde se fueron tomando las decisiones de tono, construcción narrativa y de utilización de los textos. En la película se mezclan escenas actuadas con momentos puramente documentales como una boda china o un talent show en un centro comunal de chinatown.

Los monólogos chinos los mantuvimos bastante fieles a los datos recibidos por los actores. Se agilizaron y sintetizaron en una prosa coloquial que podía encajar en  cualquier situación. En un inicio escribimos ciertos rodeos literarios que demostraron no ser necesarios para comunicar sus historias. El poder de las anécdotas era suficiente. Mientras menos adornos mejor.  Los personajes cuentan sus historias mientras cocinan, comen, tejen, tocan el piano, dan un masaje, ven una película en la laptop o simplemente están tirados en sus catres. La cámara explora sus rostros y partes del cuerpo desde muy cerca y se sumerje en los distintos objetos del apartamento. La visual es tanto íntima como claustrofóbica. Esto fue tanto una decisión estética de los cinematográfos como una necesidad traída por las circunstancias espaciales. La narrativa visual en Your Day is My Night es tan importante como la palabra hablada y en muchos momentos incluso más evocadora.

“Because of the tight quarters, some parts of your body cannot move. What you can move more freely is your hands. In this circumstance the performer’s hands became two bodies. They are interesting and sculptural. So we tried to use the hands and the sheets as two kinds of landscapes. From the very beginning this was a visual plan we had. I always wanted the sheets to become like caverns, to have a feeling of adventure over the sheets. There was one shot of Mr. Huang’s pink sheet right after his first monologue. I wanted it to feel like the Grand Canyon, or the Steppes in Eurasia, something very far out there.” Ibid.

Los personajes puertorriqueños fueron más dificiles de componer y sostener en el filme. Como no estaban basados en datos reales se les inventó una vida. Lourdes, el personaje de Veraalba, trabajaba como empleada en un Ikea arreglando camas (showroom beds). Carlos, su hermano (Pedro) había muerto en un accidente de carro pero ella se lo imaginaba por todos lados cargando una planta de moriviví. Lourdes se va de Puerto Rico tratando de escapar de su propia angustia (la muerte de su hermano, una madre opresiva) pero algo de su motivación queda ambigua. Su proceso como inmigrante es históricamente menos trágico aunque advertimos vive perdida tratando de encontrar un ancla. Lourdes, quien  también  es bailarina y escritora, se muda a Chinatown buscando conocer una cultura lejana a la suya. Sentirse despatriada es su manera de encontrar su esencia como persona.

Creo que con Lourdes alcanzamos construir una historia rica en matices, tipo novela de aprendizaje; pero desarrollarla, contar todos esos detalles, significaba alejarse del tema principal que motivaba a Lynne: las camas itinerantes; el chinatown oculto  y hacinado. Dejar que el personaje moviera la trama  era hacer otra película teniendo a la comunidad de chinatown como trasfondo secundario. Ese no era el balance que se buscaba entre ficción y documental. Aunque se filmaron muchas escenas acerca de Lourdes y Carlos, poco a poco Lynne y Sean Hanley cinematógrafo, co-editor y productor, las fueron extirpando (la historia sobre Carlos fue eliminada por completo, por ejemplo) para mantener el foco del filme y una duración adecuada.

“Originally the film was a little bit more narrative. For example, we had this whole part where Mr. Huang disappears, because Lourdes originally tries to get him out of Chinatown after he claims that he never leaves. They walk across the Manhattan bridge and she says: “I have to go to work”. When she leaves to go to work, he’s never seen again. It didn’t work in the film. It turned it into a narrative film that had a forced story and people judged it on the acting.” Ibid.

A pesar de este proceso de eliminación, el personaje de Lourdes cumple una función importante: crear un puente entre el apartamento y el exterior, un afuera que va más allá de la comunidad de chinatown y de la generación de los protagonistas chinos.

“One thing that I didn’t want to happen in this film was to portray either the shift-bed houses or Chinatown as isolated enclaves that didn’t exist anywhere else…I wanted to say that in 21st Century America, life is more porous. People have accidental interactions that affect them, and so I felt like bringing in not just another language, but also another person with a slightly different immigration experience, would add to that conversation. I also felt that for an audience, it broke the snowglobe feeling of “I’m looking in, but I cannot go in.” That would imply that Chinatown was a kind of hermetic space. So I thought that by having a new person in the apartment who’s a little bit wide-eyed, who wanted to learn from her older “roommates”, we could offer the audience the opportunity to become more involved.“ Ibid.

Durante año y medio mientras se editaba la película Lynne regresó con Sean varias veces para filmar tomas ambientales y aveces pequeñas escenas extras. En una de estas escenas se logró acceso a un apartamento repleto de camas itinerantes. La landlady y algunos inquilinos se dejaron filmar y hablan cómodamente con Huang, el cantante de bodas, uno de los personajes más curiosos del reparto. Esta escena es de las más impresionantes por la tristeza y resignación que esta manera de vivir trae a los implicados.

Ese juego entre escenas orquestradas y escenas documentales culminó con unas tomas en que se filmó a los protagonistas chinos en uno de los performances del “work in progress”.  Estas tomas, por tener iluminación teatral y movimientos del tai-chi, tienen un aspecto surrealista siendo a la vez un registro híbrido entre ficción  y documentación de las actividades del grupo.

“Far into our production, as I was documenting one of our live performances, I thought “This is really expressive and totally non-verbal, why aren’t we using it in the film?” Again, the idea, the process, revealed itself, whereas the more plot driven story was what I was forcing on them. It was artificial. So I took out all of that and allowed the film to become more improvisational and intuitive. This switched everything. We spent a year edit the other way and then just threw it all out when we realized how lucky we were to work with people so confident about their bodies, very willing to go on the stage and move freely. They had that ability and confidence.” Ibid.

Mi presencia en la etapa de post-producción fue mínima y se limitó a verificar unos subtítulos para una escena en español. No fue hasta que el filme estrenó el pasado 24 de febrero en el Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York (MoMa), en que finalmente vi entrelazados todos los niveles de escritura audiovisual.  El filme tiene una cualidad atmósférica y voyeur que lo acerca más al género del documental, aunque ciertamente es una propuesta híbrida y con una estética muy trabajada.

Me sorprendió cómo decantar la palabra hablada ayudó al ritmo de la película. Los monólogos pueden considerarse islas dentro del tema-archipiélago de las camas y la vida en chinatown. Con las capas de traducción y la improvisación de algunos diálogos desapareció la autoría o los trucos de estilo, míos o de Lynne. El personaje de Lourdes terminó encajando muy bien como ese ojo externo dentro de las circunstancias. Las escenas estrictamente visuales no dejan de crear un texto pero este se manifiesta desde unas instancias poéticas y emotivo-arquitectónicas. Sin carecer de narrativa, Your Day is My Night no alardea de grandes peripecias sino de una observación cuidada al cotidiano de los personajes.  Nunca victimiza sino que reconoce y valida la presencia de los por lo general anónimos habitantes de este barrio nuyorkino.

Ellen-hand-on-bed

Lynne Sachs labora en el medio fílmico y en el del video. Otras facetas de su trabajo incluyen instalaciones y proyectos para la red. Su obra explora la relación intrincada que existe entre la observación personal y las experiencias históricas. Su estilo entrelaza poesía, collage, pintura, política y complejos diseños de sonido. Los filmes de Lynne se han presentado en el Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York, el Festival de Cine de New York, el Festival de Cine de Sundance y el Festival Internacional de Cine de Buenos Aires. Lynne enseña cine y video experimental en la Universidad de Nueva York y vive en Brooklyn.

Para más información visitar: www.lynnesachs.com

Apriete aquí para leer la entrevista completa a Lynne Sachs sobre Your Day is my Night, publicada en Asian Cinevision-Cinevue.

 


  1. HERE IS A ROUGH GOOGLE TRANLATION FROM SPANISH TO ENGLISH
The appointment was for 8:00 pm and Gallisá Sofia studio in Fort Green , Brooklyn began to fill with Puerto Rican friends . We were about ten . We had been invited by filmmaker and teacher, Lynne Sachs. Lynne wanted to know our bedtime stories , record them and study them. Sofia, her collaborator , trust our narrative power and strangeness , hence the invitation. 

The discussion was entertaining and cheerful. He spoke to sleep surrounded by pillows everywhere, intolerance to noise, to be wrapped in sheets like mummies , to fight on the side of the bed with the couple, cleaning idiosyncrasies ; craziness and rituals of each when bedtime. 

A week later I found out that this meeting was an audition and that three of us ( Veraalba St. , Pedro Leopoldo Sanchez and I) had been selected to participate in the project of Lynne , Your Day is my Night. For me as a writer. 

Once I met told me that simultaneous Lynne us a group of Chinese were also interviewed / auditioned for the film that began to take shape : a documentary hybrid about traveling beds in the apartments of Chinatown . Part of my task was to go with her to conduct new interviews with selected . My mission would be to co – write a monologue based on what is heard. 

” My way of filmmaking is all about process – Tell me who you are and I’ll tell you what I’m trying to do and let’s work on something together . I was taken by a Chinatown activist to the Lin Sing Association on Mott Street, where I told me I could find willing performers . Most of Lin Sing’s members are retired , so time doing lot . I happened to come During a karaoke contest . The place was packed . I said I am auditioning as a documentary filmmaker , I usually say I’m interviewing , I am making a film acerca beds. I did not explain any more than that. About 40 people signed up to come to audition and 26 people Showed up . Working with a Chinese translator , I interviewed every one of them but I only acerca Asked them one thing . I said , “Do you have any interesting stories acerca beds in your life ? Did you ever have to share a bed ? Did you ever live in a really crowded apartment where there were many beds ? I taped the interviews With These 26 people . It ended up that seven people had actually These stunning and haunting stories to tell me . ” -Lynne Sachs on Asian Cinevision , Cinema Spotlight : Your Day is my Night 

The seven Chinese stories , four men and three women , they distanced enough of what he had heard or received Puerto Ricans. In their stories there was not much space to celebrate the everyday comfort or selections . All these stories referred them to devastating past , family separation , trauma , violence and horrific events that eventually led to experiences of immigration . Most traders as children were badly shaken by the revolution . They must leave the country. In the first instance overcrowding in Chinatown , New York , had the earmarks of progress. 

” Interestingly , the disturbing stories That you hear in the film surprised Jenifer Lee, one of our translators . She’s originally from Taiwan That and she said she’d never heard about so many horrible things happening as early as the 1940s in China. Things like gangs breaking into someone’s house and beating up parents in front of Their children . People were not really talking about this kind of violence in history very much. Still , most of it did bring our performers Their kids to the show. To me , this is important , Because They were proud as performers and a lot of them wanted to reveal Their tragic stories to Their Own families . ” Ibid . 

In the first stage of attentive listening text after I had several challenges . First walk blindly into the linguistic labyrinth in which I had gotten . Interviewees spoke only Mandarin. Their stories sedazo passed by a translator. I knew something always eluded me : a nuance, intonation , two-way comment , who knows. There was no way to identify the emotional aspects of speech or corroborate how faithful was the translator. 

This hearing without reference I took notes in English then condensed and gave some cinematic tone . Lynne wrote on their own and then I edited two texts in a near final version . The process was reversed and they were made in Mandarin translation for them to learn and improvise , as it ended up being the case , from his monologues . Throughout this journey of linguistic layers was the feeling of something incommunicado , lost in translation . 

The next challenge was to introduce the characters and Pedro Veraalba Puerto Ricans in the world of Chinatown . Lynne was not interested in repeating the process of filtering reality and tell a student and artistic version of immigrants in NY . His interest was to create a fiction about a lower-class Puerto Ricans living among these gentlemen end Chinese . The characters serve as catalysts for the Chinese stories . The film was both a proposed documentary as a fictional invention . We had to swim in both waters . 

Many questions arose : How to handle the juxtaposition of both approaches ? How to be faithful to the harsh Chinese history ? How to maintain credibility with these Puerto Ricans from fiction ? Should we also focus on the difficulties of Puerto Rican emigration ? Is this film the right forum for this? 

Working with Lynne offers interesting challenges but rarely easy conclusions or methods . His approach as a filmmaker shows his poetic vision of the world. A personal and eclectic references takes time to unravel , but stimulating and certainly sui generis . Their process practices draws film directors like Jean -Luc Godard oTerrence Malick , those who favor visual improvisation and acting and intertextuality . It was in the same film and later in the editing room , where they were taking the decisions of tone , narrative construction and use of texts. In the movie scenes are mixed with moments purely documentary acted as a Chinese wedding or talent show at a community center in chinatown . 

Chinese Monologues kept pretty faithful to the data received by the actors. Synthesized were streamlined and conversational prose that could fit into any situation. Initially we wrote some literary detours proved not to be necessary to communicate their stories. The power of the stories was enough. The less ornaments better. The characters tell their stories while they cook , eat , knit , play the piano , get a massage , watch a movie on the laptop or simply are lying in their cots . The camera scans their faces and body parts from very close and is immersed in the various objects of the apartment. The visual is both intimate and claustrophobic . This was both an aesthetic decision of Cinematographers as a necessity brought by the spatial . The visual narrative in Your Day is My Night is as important as the spoken word and many times even more evocative. 

“Because of the tight quarters , some parts of your body can not move . What you can move more freely is your hands . In this circumstance the performer ‘s hands Became two bodies . They are interesting and sculptural . So we tried to use the hands and the sheets as two kinds of landscapes. From the very beginning I this was a visual plan we had . I always wanted the sheets to Become like caverns , to have a feeling of adventure over the sheets . There was one shot of Mr. Huang’s pink sheet right after his first monologue . I wanted it to feel like the Grand Canyon, or the Steppes in Eurasia , something very far out there. ” Ibid . 

The Puerto Rican characters were more difficult to compose and sustain in the film. As data were not based on real life were invented . Lourdes , the character of Veraalba , worked as a clerk in arranging Ikea beds ( beds showroom ) . Carlos , his brother ( Peter) was killed in a car accident but she imagined him everywhere carrying a mimosa pudica plant . Lourdes is going to Puerto Rico trying to escape his own anguish (the death of his brother , a mother oppressive ) but some of his motivation is ambiguous. His process as an immigrant is historically less tragic but warned lives lost trying to find an anchor. Lourdes , who is also a dancer and writer moves to Chinatown looking to meet a culture far removed from his. Feeling despatriada is your way to find your essence as a person. 

I think with Lourdes reach build a richly nuanced story , novel type of learning , but develop it , have all those details , away from the main subject meant that motivated Lynne : mobile beds , the occult and crowded chinatown . Let the character move the plot was taking to make another movie chinatown community as secondary background . That was not the balance was sought between fiction and documentary . While many scenes were filmed about Lourdes and Carlos , gradually Lynne and Sean Hanley cinematographer, co -editor and producer, the were removing ( the story about Carlos was completely eliminated , for example) to keep the focus of the film and adequate length. 

” Originally the film was a little bit more narrative . For example , we had this whole part where Mr. Huang disappears , Because originally Lourdes tries to get him out of Chinatown after claims That I ‘ve never leaves . They walk across the Manhattan bridge and she says: ” I have to go to work” . When she leaves to go to work , he’s never seen again . It did not work in the film. It turned it into a narrative film That had a story and people Judged forced it on the acting . ” Ibid . 

Although this process of elimination , the character of Lourdes plays an important role : to create a bridge between the apartment and the outside, an outside beyond chinatown community and generation of Chinese players . 

“One thing That I did not want to happen in this film was to portray Either the shift- bed houses or Chinatown as isolated enclaves That Did not exist anywhere else … I wanted to say That in 21st Century America , life is more porous . People have accidental interactions That Affect them , and so I felt like bringing in not just another language , But Also another person with a slightly different immigration experience , would add to That conversation . I also felt That for an audience , it broke the snowglobe feeling of ” I’m looking in, but I can not go in. ” Chinatown That would Imply That was a kind of hermetic space . So I thought That by having a new person in the apartment who’s a little bit wide- eyed , who wanted to learn from her older ” roommates ” We Could offer the audience the opportunity to Become more involved. ” Ibid . 

For a year and a half while editing the film with Sean Lynne returned several times to shoot environmental and sometimes take small scenes extras. In one of these scenes were accessible to an apartment full of itinerant beds . The landlady and some tenants were allowed to film and talk comfortably with Huang , the wedding singer , one of the most curious of the cast. This scene is of the most impressive by sadness and resignation that this way of life brings to those involved. 

That game between scenes documentary scenes orchestrated and ended with some shots that were filmed Chinese actors in one of the performances of “work in progress ” . These shots , by having theatrical lighting and tai -chi movements have a surreal being both a record hybrid between fiction and documentation of the group’s activities . 

“Far into our production , as I was documenting one of our live performances, I thought” This is really expressive and totally non – verbal , why are not we using it in the film? “Again , the concept , the process , revealed itself , Whereas the more plot driven story was what I was forcing on them . It was artificial . So I took out all of that and allowed the film to Become more improvisational and intuitive . This switched everything. We spent a year edit the other way and then just Threw it all out When We Realized how lucky we were to work With people so confident acerca Their bodies , very willing to go on the stage and move freely. They had that abitur and confidence . ” Ibid . 

My presence in the post-production stage was minimal and was limited to verifying some subtitles for a scene in Spanish . It was not until the film premiered on February 24 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York ( MoMA ) , we finally saw intertwined all levels of visual writing . The film has a voyeuristic quality that atmospheric and closer to documentary genre , but it certainly is a hybrid approach with a very polished aesthetic . 

I was surprised how the spoken word decant helped the pacing of the film . The monologues can be considered islands within the archipelago theme – beds and life in chinatown . With the layers of translation and improvisation of conversations disappeared authorship or style tricks , me or Lynne . Lourdes ‘s character ended up fitting very well as the outer eye in the circumstances . Strictly visual scenes no longer create a text but this is manifest from a poetic and emotional bodies – architectural . No lack of narrative , Your Day is My Night does not boast of great adventures but a careful observation of the everyday characters . Never victimizes but recognizes and validates the presence of usually anonymous nuyorkino inhabitants of this district .
Lynne Sachs working in the film medium and the video . Other facets of his work include facilities and projects for the network. His work explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and historical experiences . His style interweaves poetry , collage , painting , politics and complex sound designs . Lynne ‘s films have been presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York , the Film Festival of New York , the Sundance Film Festival and the International Film Festival of Buenos Aires . Lynne teaches experimental film and video at New York University and lives in Brooklyn.
 

For more information visit : www.lynnesachs.com 

Press here to read the full interview with Lynne Sachs about Your Day is my Night , published in Asian Cinevision – Cinevue .