Saturday, 18 July 2009
Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the Nicaraguan revolution, in which a a band of guerilla fighters overthrew the 40-year dictatorship of US-backed evil dude Somoza (as dramatized in the John Alcott-shot, Ron Shelton written, Nick Nolte-starring UNDER FIRE, an inspiration to my father to go to Nicaragua in the first place).
From 1985 until 1994, I lived in Nicaragua, which meant that my formative years of cinema going happened there. It was a strange and exciting place to watch movies, as it benefited from being on the socialist bloc's touring map. This meant a lot of Soviet, Cuban, Czech and Polish films,(like MOSCOW DOES NOT BELIEVE IN TEARS) but also, lots of Spanish-language arthouse, like Saura(CRIA CUERVOS...) Bunuel(LOS OLVIDADOS) and classics like SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, and Brazilian hits like LOLA AND HER TWO HUSBANDS. The complete lack of age certification system made for some awkward moments, but in retrospect it was a good thing, which is why I am ambivalent about restrictive age policies for children.
As my mom was involved in community art, we ended up showing 16mm films in poor neighbourhoods to hundreds of screaming children. The double bill was usually Chaplin's THE GOLD RUSH and Tomas Gutierrez Alea's THE DEATH OF A BUREAUCRAT. Both had enough visual gags and slapstick to keep even the most discerning 10 year old Nicaraguan boy laughing.
We also had some very commercial movie-going experiences, like queues around the block for DIRTY DANCING and a fairly awful disaster movie called HURRICANE (which was odd, given the amount of hurricanes that hit Nicaragua). These viewing habits, combined with visits to New York, where my brother would take me to the movies almost every day and I would spend hours at his video store watching things like FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF and RED HEAT, amounted to a genuine eclectic taste for the sublime and the trashy.
Viva la revolucion!