Facundo Cabral, Singer of Conscience, Dies at 74

July 11, 2011

nytimes.com

Facundo Cabral, Singer of Conscience, Dies at 74
By LARRY ROHTER

Facundo Cabral, an Argentine singer-songwriter who was one of the most eloquent voices of protest against military dictatorships in Latin America from the 1970s onward, died on Saturday, shot to death while on tour in Guatemala. He was 74 and lived in Buenos Aires.

Mr. Cabral was killed when the car in which he was a passenger, on its way to the airport in Guatemala City, was ambushed by unidentified gunmen in three vehicles. His road manager, Davíd Llanos, and a concert promoter and nightclub owner from Nicaragua, Henry Fariña Fonseca, were seriously wounded in the attack.

The death of Mr. Cabral, who in 1996 was designated a “worldwide messenger of peace” by the United Nations, caused consternation throughout the Spanish-speaking world. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela sent a message via Twitter: “Oh what pain! They have killed the great troubadour of the Pampas.” René Pérez, leader of the Puerto Rican hip-hop group Calle 13, wrote, “Latin America is in mourning,” and other leading pop-music figures, among them Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz and Ricardo Montaner, also sent Twitter messages lamenting his loss.

Guatemalan government officials said that Mr. Fariña, the nightclub owner, was most likely the gunmen’s intended target. But Rigoberta Menchú, the Guatemalan Indian leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, seemed to contradict this view when she said Saturday, “I can’t help but think he was assassinated for his ideals.”

Rodolfo Enrique Facundo Cabral was born on May 22, 1937, the eighth child of a poor family that soon thereafter emigrated from Buenos Aires province to Tierra del Fuego; it was in that remote region that he was first exposed to Argentine folk music. As a child Mr. Cabral was rebellious, running away from home several times and serving time in a juvenile reformatory: as the story was told years later, at age 9 he even sneaked into the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, where he met Eva Perón and persuaded her to find a job for his mother.

At 14, while in the reformatory, Mr. Cabral was taught to read and write by a Jesuit priest and acquired the love of words that would make him famous. In addition to recording more than two dozen albums, Mr. Cabral wrote numerous books, both novels and nonfiction, the best known of which is probably “Borges and I,” an account of his friendship and conversations with the writer Jorge Luis Borges.

After holding a series of menial jobs and learning to play guitar, Mr. Cabral began performing in 1959, under a stage name, El Indio Gasparino, suggesting that he was of Indian extraction, like his idol and inspiration Atahualpa Yupanqui. It was only in 1970 that he had his first major success under his own name, the spiritually infused song “No Soy de Aquí, ni Soy de Allá” (“I’m Not From Here, I’m Not From There”).

That hit, which has been recorded or performed in various languages by artists including Julio Iglesias and Neil Diamond, was followed by others, and by the mid-1970s Mr. Cabral was firmly established in the top echelon of folk-inspired singer-songwriters in Latin America.

Many of Mr. Cabral’s songs mixed expressions of mystical spirituality with a desire for social justice, which gave him a reputation as a protest singer. That proved dangerous after the Argentine military seized power in a coup in March 1976, and he fled to Mexico, where he remained in exile until after the collapse of the Argentine dictatorship in 1982. On his return, in 1984, Mr. Cabral was more popular than ever.

His sold-out concerts were an unusual mixture of music and the spoken word, with songs preceded by long introductions in which he would muse on philosophy and religion and often quote from his favorite poets, including Borges and Walt Whitman, and spiritual masters like Gandhi and Mother Teresa.

It was not immediately clear if any immediate family members survived. Mr. Cabral’s wife and infant daughter died in an airplane crash in 1978, which he regarded as just one of many painful episodes in a life full of hardships: “I was without a voice until I was 9, illiterate until I was 14, became a widower at 40 and only met my father when I was 46,” he often said in interviews.

Still, Mr. Cabral’s work was suffused with optimistic aphorisms that have become common figures of speech. “Never allow yourself to be confused by a handful of killers, because good predominates,” he once said, adding, “A bomb makes more noise than a caress, but for each bomb that destroys, there are millions of caresses that nourish life.”

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pagina12.com.ar

El trovador de sus aventuras

Nació en la pobreza más baja y ganó una fama muy peculiar y duradera con sus canciones de un estilo autobiográfico.

Por Karina Micheletto

Trovador, juglar, poeta, admirado cantautor. Trotamundos, aventurero de guitarra al hombro. Suerte de gurú espiritual de la música, “maestro”, según le decían sus miles de admiradores. Entre las muchas definiciones que podían caberle a Facundo Cabral, la más precisa fue quizá la que él mismo se dio: “Un narrador de historias, viajes, sueños, pesadillas”. Cabral perteneció a una raza de artistas de las que no abundaron: aquellos cuyo arte estaba en directa relación con la experiencia vivida y acumulada, o más precisamente, se nutría de ésta. Las circunstancias de su muerte muestran la vigencia que mantenía el cantautor en toda Latinoamérica. Será recordado por temas que fueron himnos unas décadas atrás, canciones con la capacidad de transmitir un mensaje humano amplio y abarcativo, contendor de las diferencias: “No soy de aquí, ni soy de allá, y ser feliz es mi color de identidad”. “Pobrecito mi patrón, piensa que el pobre soy yo”. “Vuele bajo, porque abajo, está la verdad”.

En los ’80, Cabral alcanzó el lugar de figura mítica del espectáculo y también de la cultura, que en su caso ambos mundos le cabían. Cumplía con las condiciones simbólicas que impone ese lugar mítico. Un origen muy humilde, una infancia de exclusión, una marca de vida sufriente. Una carrera que lo llevó a alcanzar reconocimiento internacional. Y un don diferencial: el de componer y cantar canciones a partir de sus reflexiones y también para narrar historias que lo tenían como protagonista. Era un hombre que se había hecho a sí mismo, que de la nada había llegado al reconocimiento de muchos. Y que, como otras figuras míticas de distintos momentos de la cultura argentina –Yupanqui podría ser un ejemplo– tuvo a su propio cargo el relato de esa construcción.

Sus shows eran como extensas entrevistas que él mismo se formulaba, entre canción y canción. Un hombre solo con su guitarra, una silla y un micrófono. Ya no hay muchos, tampoco, que puedan sostener una función con estos únicos elementos. En los últimos conciertos que dio en Buenos Aires, en abril en el teatro ND/Ateneo, le pidió a su amigo el periodista especializado en música popular Marcelo Simón que lo relevara en el rol de entrevistador. “Facundo Cabral comparte el escenario con un amigo dilecto”, anunciaba el show Canciones conversadas. Quienes lo vieron (fue a sala llena) siguieron sus aventuras de vida con entusiasmo, en el clima íntimo que siempre sabía crear.

Cabral había nacido el 22 de mayo de 1937 en La Plata y contaba que este nacimiento se había producido, literalmente, en la calle. El relato que hacía de su infancia variaba en los detalles, pero mostraba que todo le había sido dado para que su vida fuera otra cosa. Su padre lo abandonó antes de nacer, junto a su madre y siete hermanos. La familia emigró a Tierra del Fuego, donde vivió sus primeros años. Fue un chico de la calle, analfabeto y alcohólico, pasó por reformatorios y cárceles. Contaba que a los nueve años escapó de su casa para llegar a Buenos Aires. Quería conocer al presidente, porque sabía que “les daba trabajo a los pobres”.

Los detalles de aquella travesía que duró cuatro meses son un relato épico que llegó a las puertas de la Casa Rosada, a burlar el cerco de seguridad presidencial, a una charla con Juan Domingo Perón y Eva Duarte. Finalmente había logrado que su madre obtuviera empleo y que el resto de la familia se trasladara a Tandil. “Evita me brindó su afecto y se preocupó para que tuviéramos una casa con mi madre y hermanos en Tandil. Allí comenzó la buena para los Cabral”, contaba.

Hubo otra figura importante en su relato de vida, y fue la de un sacerdote jesuita que conoció estando preso, cuando era un adolescente. El cura le enseñó a leer y escribir, lo impulsó a estudiar, a amar la literatura. Estaba también aquel vagabundo que siempre mencionaba: “El 24 de febrero de 1954, un vagabundo me recitó el sermón de la montaña y descubrí que estaba naciendo. Corrí a escribir una canción de cuna, ‘Vuele bajo’, y empezó todo”. La idea de Dios era recurrente en su obra, aunque él se declaraba librepensador, sin adscripción a ninguna iglesia en particular.

Su figura estaba también hecha en base a las amistades que había cultivado, tan amplias como para abarcar a la Madre Teresa de Calcuta y Fidel Castro, Jorge Luis Borges y Pablo Neruda, entre otros notables a los que siempre se refería en sus espectáculos. A lo largo de su carrera editó decenas de discos con títulos como Cabralgando, Pateando tachos, Entre Dios y el diablo, El mundo estaba bastante tranquilo cuando yo nací, Recuerdos de oro, además de los que resultaron de sus multitudinarias presentaciones de Lo Cortez no quita lo Cabral y Ferrocabral. También escribió los libros Conversaciones con Facundo Cabral, Mi abuela y yo, Salmos, Borges y yo, Ayer soñé que podía y hoy puedo, el Cuaderno de Facundo, entre otros.

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Soderbergh’s epic “Che” lands US distributor

September 13, 2008

nydailynews.com

Soderbergh’s epic ‘Che’ lands US distributor

TORONTO — Steven Soderbergh’s Che Guevara film biography “Che” has found a U.S. distributor that will release it in theaters this December to qualify for the Academy Awards.

IFC Films announced Wednesday it acquired domestic rights to the two-part, 4½-hour saga, which stars Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro as the Argentine doctor who became one of the heroes of Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution.

The film will play a one-week qualifying run in Los Angeles and New York in December for Oscar consideration.

It will reopen in theaters in January and be available to cable and satellite subscribers through IFC’s movies-on-demand service.

“Che” earned Del Toro the best-actor prize in May at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered.

The acquisition was announced at the Toronto International Film Festival, where “Che” also screened.

“‘Che’ is nothing less than the film event of the year,” said Jonathan Sehring, IFC Films president.

“By giving us the rise and fall of one of the great icons of history, Steven Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro, who gives an incredible soulful performance, have humanized him and given audiences around the world something that will be discussed for years to come.”


Manu Chao y Maradona

July 6, 2008

This footage was filmed in Buenos Aires and is part of the Emir Kusturica documentary on the life of Diego Maradona.


80 Años

June 14, 2008


Benicio Del Toro wins Cannes’ Best Actor award as “Che”

May 26, 2008

Benicio Del Toro, ‘Latino Brad Pitt’, wins Cannes award as ‘Che’

by Claire Rosemberg

CANNES, France (AFP) – Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro, the Puerto Rican-born star often dubbed the “Latino Brad Pitt”, won Cannes’ Best Actor award Sunday for his role as “Che” Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s film on the revolutionary hero.

“I’d like to dedicate this to the man himself, Che Guevara,” said the actor, after accepting his second big award under the US director’s helmsmanship.

“I wouldn’t be here without Che Guevera, and through all the awards the movie gets you’ll have to pay your respects to the man.”

And taking one reporter’s question after Cannes’ red-carpet awards ceremony, all Del Toro saw was her “Che” T-shirt. “I like the shirt,” he said several times.

Del Toro, 41, transmutes into a larger-than-life Che in the marathon four-hours-plus movie.

“Che” charts two episodes in the life of the guerrilla hero — the late 1950s ouster of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista alongside Fidel Castro, and Che’s subsequent aborted bid to bring the Cuban revolution to Bolivia.

Some critics slammed the film shot in Spanish for its length and meticulous documentary-style presentation, as well as for failing to focus on the politically controversial aspects of the Cuban revolution.

Soderbergh needed to tighten it for average movie-goers, they said.

The US director back in 2000 propelled Del Toro into the movie limelight, when he bagged best supporting Oscar for his role as a restrained Mexican police officer walking the moral high ground in “Traffic”.

Del Toro, original name Benicio Monserrate Rafael Del Toro Sanchez, also played five years earlier in the blockbuster “The Usual Suspects”, where he was the mumbling gangster Fenster.

He has also been directed by the head of this year’s Cannes jury Sean Penn, in 1990 “The Indian Runner” and “The Pledge”, 2001.

Born in Puerto Rico to lawyer parents, he moved to the United States at the age of nine when his mother died and studied commerce before deciding, secretly, to change to acting.

Del Toro, who has a quiet but immensely strong presence, was involved from the start on the “Che” film, which took nine years of research and 60 million dollars to complete.

In Cannes for the screening, he recounted how like the average American he grew up with a bad guy image of Cuba’s hero until stumbling on a book on the guerrilla leader in Mexico.

“He had a really warm smile. I bought the book and then read more. The love people had for this man made me more interested,” he said.


Benecio Del Toro challenges Cannes with epic Che portrait

May 23, 2008

Del Toro challenge Cannes with epic Che portrait

CANNES, France — Unless it is one of his “Ocean’s Eleven” casino romps, Steven Soderbergh never makes things easy for an audience.

With his epic film biography of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, Soderbergh defiantly has made the story he wanted to see, one that will prove a very tough sell to some audiences.

The two-part saga runs four hours, 30 minutes. It is almost entirely in Spanish, a particular challenge for U.S. viewers who dislike subtitles.

It dispenses with many cliches of the biopic, offering virtually no insight into the origin of Che’s brand of humanism, instead presenting impressionistic glimpses of Che’s idealism in action during the Cuban revolution and his attempt to foment a similar transformation in Bolivia.

Soderbergh was prepared for reporters’ skepticism on all fronts at a Cannes news conference Thursday.

On shooting in Spanish:

“You can’t make a film with any level of credibility in this case unless it’s in Spanish,” Soderbergh said.

“I hope we’re reaching a time where you go make a movie in another culture, that you shoot in the language of that culture. I’m hoping the days of that sort of specific brand of cultural imperialism have ended.”

On the length:

“Just the further you get into it, it felt like if you’re going to have context, then it’s just going to have to be a certain size,” Soderbergh said.

On the unconventional structure:

“I find it hilarious that most of the stuff being written about movies is how conventional they are, and then you have people … upset that something’s not conventional,” Soderbergh said.

“The bottom line is we’re just trying to give you a sense of what it was like to hang out around this person. That’s really it. And the scenes were chosen strictly on the basis of, ‘Yeah, what does that tell us about his character?'”

Starring Benicio Del Toro, the Oscar-winning co-star of Soderbergh’s “Traffic,” as Guevara, the two films were shot as “The Argentine” and “Guerrilla.”

The cast includes Franka Potente, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Demian Bichir as Fidel Castro. Soderbergh buddy Matt Damon, part of the star-studded “Ocean’s Eleven” ensemble, makes a brief appearance.

“The Argentine” juxtaposes Guevara and Castro’s late 1950s triumph in Cuba with flashbacks to their early planning days in Mexico and Che’s visit to New York City in the mid-1960s, when he was greeted with condemnation and death threats over the Castro regime’s iron-fisted rule.

“Guerrilla” follows the downfall of Guevara as his grass-roots campaign in Bolivia degenerates into a handful of scraggly, starving rebels on the run from vastly superior government forces in the jungle.

Che was executed in Bolivia in 1967. Much of the world now has only a superficial grasp of Che as a symbol of revolution from T-shirts and posters depicting his boldly smiling face.

While it may be hard to persuade audiences to see it a first time, the story requires repeated viewings to really appreciate it, said Del Toro, also a producer on the project.

“It reminds me of the painter who did a portrait of this lady, and when he gave it to the lady, the lady said, ‘That portrait doesn’t look anything like me.’ And the painter said, ‘Oh, it will,'” Del Toro said.

“I really think that eventually, those people, when they see the movie for the third time, they’ll start seeing things, they’ll start seeing dimensions and angles, maybe a look or a smile or the use of this or a character here and there. … I know them very well, but I’m still finding stuff.”

The films were presented as one entry at Cannes under the name “Che.” They played without credits, the way Soderbergh would prefer to see it initially released to general audiences.

“Here’s what I would like to do is, every time it opens in a town, let’s say, that for a week, you can see it as one movie for the first week, and then you split it off into two films,” Soderbergh said.

“That’s what I would like to do is have a sort of roadshow engagement, no credits … a printed program that comes with the movie. To me, that would be an event.”

How the films actually will play in the U.S. and other countries will depend on deals Soderbergh strikes as he shops it around to distributors at Cannes.

“Che” is competing for the top prize at Cannes, the Palme d’Or, which Soderbergh won with his feature debut, “sex, lies and videotape,” in 1989.

While Soderbergh talked seriously and passionately about his desire to make the films, he also had a ready wisecrack for his motivation:

“It’s all a very elaborate way for us to sell our own T-shirts,” Soderbergh said.


Maradona: Larger than life on Emir Kusturica documentary

May 21, 2008



This documentary should be quite interesting, as anything related to Diego usually is. Hopefully, it’ll be released in the US. A movie about his life was supposedly in the works with Benicio Del Toro a while back but I don’t know if its going to be released or if it’s even in production.

A great movie about his extraordinary life, on and off the field, needs to be made.

Maradona: Larger than life on Emir Kusturica documentary

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 21st 2008, 4:00 AM

At last, he says, someone has his story right.

The hard-living, larger-than-life Argentine hero was at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday for the premiere of “Maradona by Kusturica,” by Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica (“Underground”), the film world’s counterpart to the over-the-top Maradona.

The movie puts a spotlight on the cult of personality around the 47-year-old Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title and the final in 1990.

Hilarious footage shows followers of the “Maradonian Church” formed by worshipping fans, who sing his name to the tune of “Ave Maria,” build religious shrines to him and even celebrate a wedding in his honor.

It also explores Maradona’s past cocaine use, his relationship with his two daughters and his political side.

On screen, Maradona shows off his tattoo of Fidel Castro. He says he would never shake hands with Prince Charles. And he calls President Bush a “piece of human garbage.”

Off screen, he’s just as outspoken.

“It seems that when you become a well-known figure you aren’t allowed to talk about the United States or Bush,” Maradona told reporters.

“There are a lot of subjects that you aren’t allowed to talk about anymore. But Emir showed me the respect that every human being deserves. Even if you’re a soccer player, you have the right to express your opinions about somebody who’s a murderer.”

While Maradona’s rivalry with Brazilian great Pele doesn’t come up in the film, it did at the Cannes news conference, where Maradona insisted he was the greater player — a viewpoint disputed by many soccer fans.

“I promised my daughters that I wouldn’t talk about Pele, but well, I can’t prevent myself — I regret it for him,” Maradona said.

“If I hadn’t done all the bad things that I’ve done in my life, Pele would never have been able to come along as No. 2 behind me, because he used to go to bed at 10 o’clock at night, whereas I was still out on the tiles until 5 o’clock in the morning. That’s the big difference between us.”

Maradona, who gamely dribbled a ball and balanced it on his head like a seal for Cannes paparazzi, said his wild past was behind him.

“I’ve abandoned all those bad habits,” a slimmed-down, cleaned-up Maradona said. “Now I have a different life. And above all I’m not living at 100 miles an hour as I used to. I enjoy life.”

Maradona, who cooperated with Kusturica on the project, said the movie is the first about him that he’s ever appreciated.