|reporting the edge||credits|
home | about | news | contents | gossip | photographs | venues | brighton | dublin | edinburgh | film | features | interviews | awards | fashion | recipes | no more drinks | newsletter | links | contact
Fringe Report is now closed. Fringe Report closed on its 10th anniversary, Thursday 12 July 2012. It remains online as a record of 10 exciting years in the arts. Till July 2013, previously unwritten content is being added to the site from the past 10 years, but we are no longer reviewing new material. You can still write to us on the existing email addresses. Good luck with your shows.
El Ambulante (2010) (The Peddler)
Verdict: Warm-hearted delight
Daniel Burmeister (DB), according to this film in documentary format, is a man in his 60s who travels the world making films in villages.
His falling-to-pieces old red car clatters into the town of Benjamin Gould, Argentina, South America. He's paying a visit to Marcelo Latorre, a friend in the municipal administation. He's interviewed by an officer in the Mayor's office and puts his pitch. It's to make a film featuring local people playing all the parts. He asks for lodging and food - it will take 30 days to make. He requires no fee nor budget; he makes his money from selling tickets to the premiere in the village hall. He leaves the officer a scrapbook of press-cuttings of the 58 films he's made round the world.
DB is a widower who's brought up his children himself (his daughters, adults now, have asked him 'Dad, what do you want to do when you grow up?'). He's 67, would like to get his weight back down to 90 kilos, smokes moderately, is on a diet. His brother is a priest, and Gabriela - one of his sisters - has just arrived in Buenos Aires from the United States of America; but he can't see her - he's filming
Will the mayor say yes? DB's just finished a film in Ledesma, Argentina and 'They're waiting for me in Santa Fe'. The mayor gives the go-ahead. DB's lent a cottage with kitchen, bathroom with shower, bedroom, and can collect what groceries he needs from the local shop. It's bedtime, and DB prepares to sleep, saying to the unseen camera crew as he snuggles down to into the bed 'No fleas in here, right?' Tomorrow it's auditions in the town hall at 6pm.
Everyone is invited to be in the film, all are accepted from the audition. DB's a jovial-looking man with white beard and balding hair, with a weather-beaten face like a mariner's. Soon he's assembled his cast from those asked including Ramonita, 8-year-old Raela, Oscar (called Cacho), Javier Dolcimi, Marquitos, and the new young village priest. He recruits the fire chief and his crew from the town of Canals 15 km away - they've been in one of his earlier films. On the drive over, he auditions and enrols Osvaldo the taxi-driver, who wants to wear a comedy wig he keeps in his taxi. 'It's very easy', DB cajoles. 'Maybe you'll go on to Hollywood.'
Middle-aged femme fatale Porota is delighted to be recalled from an earlier film for the wedding scene. DB's film-making philosophy is robust: 'One shouldn't make a mountain out a molehill when making films. There is always a solution.' José who's never held a camera is given the camera and shooting continues. DB's already shot Osvaldo and another villager in the graveyard scene at night. Lucio daren't play a dead man in a coffin, but his son Ismael volunteers; the fire brigade and police turn out with engine, truck, lights and sirens.
'We trust him', says the mayor. 'He is an adventurer. But his heart is in it. He has 101 problems, but he manages to find 101 solutions.' DB used to write a new script for every village, but another mayor told him villages often put on the same play. So now he picks from 4 or 5 scripts he's written, and is ready to step in and act himself. In this one he runs and climbs up a tower like an athlete. There's 5 or 6 more films to do in the next 4 months. A relative is coming over and he needs to pay for the plane ticket.
They've already shot the wedding with the real priest, but the priest has gone home - and they need him for the funeral. Centenco is recruited and dressed up in vestments. Nahuel and Brian are the altar boys. DB's done films in Norway, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy. He does tracking shots by being pulled across the floor on a piece of fabric. He films on the move riding a bike: camera in one hand, handlebar in the other. 'Good film directors will notice many mistakes, but I like what I do - make handcrafted films.'
It's the day of the premier of Matamos El Tío (Let's Kill Uncle). A sheet is fixed to the village hall wall with masking tape. There's popcorn and chairs, and two villagers on the door to sell (very cheap) tickets. If they want, people can order copies to watch at home and send to their relations abroad. 'I can't really judge my own work,' says DB. 'Let's see if they like it.'
The heart of El Ambulante is the delightful chararacter at its centre. Daniel Burmeister generates happiness and optimism, shot through with lots of wry self-debunking, gentle humour, incurable enthusiasm, and kind-hearted understanding of all ages and kinds of people. 'We've got some happy memories' says a woman coming out of the screening. Another says it's the outcome of the film actually being made that's important: 'People talk to each other (now)'. 'Nothing much happens here,' says a woman during the shooting, welcoming the film being made. All will go well, she says, because 'God will help'. He'll certainly be smiling.
Cast Credits: IMDB: www.imdb.com/title/tt1636454/
Company Credits: IMDB: www.imdb.com/title/tt1636454/
reviewed Friday 1 October 2010 / Press screening / NFT2, National Film Theatre, London UK
Fringe Report (c) Fringe Report 2002-2013