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From: Robert Koehler
Date: April 23, 2010 3:24:50 AM PDT
Subject: Indie Lisboa–Day 1

You just can’t stop Lu Chuan, whose “City of Life and Death” we programmed last year in Los Angeles and has travelled widely on the festival circuit. This is the Chinese one-sheet hanging in the central hallway of the Culturgest hq for Indie Lisboa. Lu’s film is in the festival’s Observatorio section, and is unofficially the most controversial film in the pages of Cinema Scope magazine. (See Shelly Kraicer’s initial highly critical review and Tony Rayns’ response and defense of Lu’s film. Tony and Shelly are co-programmers of Vancouver festival’s Dragons & Tigers competition.)

Another one-sheet in the Culturgest hallway: Herzog’s unfairly neglected other film from a fecund 2009, “My Son My Son What Have Ye Done?”, with Michael Shannon staring back at you. Note the presenting director, playing the role formerly performed by Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. Indie Lisboa is showing double Herzog, including “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” which I programmed in Los Angeles last year.Preview post

Indie Lisboa’s Mr. Crow waiting for a late-arriving friend at the festival meeting point….

At Indie Lisboa’s front desk at Culturgest, the video screen above staffers shows one of many absurdist “action” scenes from Alejo Moguillansky’s sublime “Castro,” which is in the international competition. I programmed “Castro” in Los Angeles last year. Moguillansky, unquestionably one of Argentina’s most interesting young filmmakers, is preparing his third feature, “The Submarine War.”

The Indie Lisboa Big Board in the Culturgest entry lobby, adjacent to the main public box office. The modified grid schedule is clean and easy to read, with each day in no more than eight venues, including two screens at Culturgest.

Looking north at the Duque de Saldanha plaza to Avenida de Republica, one of Lisbon’s central grand boulevards. Lisbon is a markedly older city, with decades and centuries-old architecture (and monuments) dominating the center and not ceding to modernist corporate designs that have crept, American-style, across more and more European cities. Still, cranes are visible as construction is all over the place. Lisbon so far strikingly resembles what I first saw in 1980, but more cranes will change all of that. Continue up Avenida de Republica, turn right, and you arrive at Culturgest, the new hq for Indie Lisboa after a move from the smaller Forum Lisboa, where the festival was housed for its first six years.

Get ready for May Day. This poster is all over the city, with a hipper design than most May Day promotions. May Day also marks closing night for Indie Lisboa.

Audrey in “Funny Face” is the sight that faces me as I get on the elevator to my room at the Hotel Florida, a boutique number in central Lisbon styled in Hollywood nostalgia. My Jacques Tati room is something of an exception. The hotel walls are covered in movie quotes, such as “Top of the world, Ma!” from Raoul Walsh’s “White Heat.”

My room entry at Hotel Florida in central Lisbon. The only other French director I’ve spotted with his own room is Truffaut; much better to be inside Tati…

And here’s what it looks like inside the Jacques Tati room. Three-sheet versions of these same posters are visible in the hallway of the Cinerama cinemas in Rotterdam, one of the venues for Intl Film Festival Rotterdam. The black lump in the corner of the image is my black backpack, my perpetual companion at festivals…