11/9/08 - Pere Portabella's VAMPIR-CUADECUC in Chicago

From: Patrick Friel (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Nov 03 2008 - 15:01:03 PST

At the Music Box Theatre
White Light Cinema is extremely pleased to present a special screening of
Spanish filmmaker Pere Portabella¹s 1970 masterpiece VAMPIR-CUADECUC,
showing in a restored 35mm print.
This screening takes place at the Music Box Theatre on Sunday, November 9 at
5:00pm and will be introduced by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum.
Portabella, the subject of a retrospective at the Gene Siskel Film Center in
2006, is one of the key figures in contemporary Spanish cinema. Little known
in the U.S. until the last few years, Portabella¹s career struggled under
the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Recently he has been finding an
artistic and critical resurgence with a new feature film and major
retrospectives in Chicago and New York.

VAMPIR-CUADECUC (1970, 75 mins., 35mm) is a dreamlike combination of
documentary, narrative, experimental, and essay film styles and is one of
the key films of contemporary Spanish cinema. Shot on the set of Jesus
Franco¹s Italian horror film ³Count Dracula,² and featuring the star of that
film, Christopher Lee, VAMPIR is both a sly political allegory about
dictator General Francisco Franco, a gentle homage to early films about the
vampire legend, particularly Dreyer¹s ³Vampyr² and Murnau¹s ³Nosferatu,² and
a work of subtle beauty and great richness.

³Vampir Cuadecuc is a delirious reflection on the codes and conventions of
the horror film through the language of structural materialist cinema. Shot
on the set of Jesús Franco's Count Dracula (1970), with a compelling
soundtrack by Carles Santos, the film alternates between being a horror
film‹with intertextual references back to Carl Dreyer's Vampyr (1932)‹and
documenting Franco's filming. This film evinces a distinct authorial style,
evidenced through Portabella's use of high-contrast photography and his
blending of documentary and fiction.² (Museum of Modern Art, New York)
³The first word in the title of Pere Portabella's ravishing 1970 underground
masterpiece, made in Spain while General Francisco Franco was still in power
and shown clandestinely, means both "worm's tail" and the unexposed footage
at the end of film reels. The film is a silent black-and-white documentary
about the shooting of Jesus Franco's Count Dracula, with Christopher Lee,
that becomes much more: the lush, high-contrast cinematography evokes
deteriorating prints of Nosferatu and Vampyr, and the extraordinary
soundtrack by composer Carles Santos intersperses the sounds of jet planes,
drills, syrupy Muzak, and sinister electronic music, all of which
ingeniously locate Dracula and our perceptions of him in the contemporary
world. Moving back and forth between Franco's film (with Dracula as an
implicit stand-in for the generalissimo) and poetic production details,
Portabella offers witty reflections on the powerful monopolies of both
dictators and commercial cinema. The only words heard are in English, spoken
by Lee and written by Bram Stoker.² (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader)
For more information on Pere Portabella and VAMPIR-CUADECUC, visit
Portabella¹s website at www.pereportabella.com
Screening Sunday, November 9 ­ 5:00pm ­ at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N.
Southport Ave.).
Regular Music Box ticket prices apply.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.