To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Mostra Internacional de Cinema em São Paulo – the movie festival just closed after running for two weeks – its creator and director Leon Cakoff has written and edited the book Cinema Sem Fim: A História da Mostra 30 Anos (Endless Cinema: 30 years of Mostra’s History) released on Monday the 30th, at Mostra’s Lounge.
Before signing autographs, the author participated in a chat with the public alongside Renata de Almeida, producer and director of Mostra’s programming, and cinema critic Rubens Ewald Filho.
In the book, Cakoff introduces Mostra’s history chronologically, year by year, commenting on the films that stood out, and pointing out the main facts of each edition. "
I’ve never seen such a big commemorative book. He wrote too much, too many personal things. But that’s his style. The book has many stories", Renata says, making a spirited comment about the 456 pages of the book.
Leon defends himself: "I think it’s a good size, it’s not long. After all, there have been 30 years of Mostra."
In the deluxe edition, every chapter starts with one of the Mostra’s original posters. Besides professor Hubert Alquéres’ afterword (CEO of Imprensa Oficial), the book also has four prefaces written by long-time friends and partners (Walter Salles, Abbas Kiarostami, Manoel de Oliveira and critic Rubens Ewald Filho).
Cakoff makes it clear that he doesn’t have a favorite Mostra edition throughout these three decades, but makes it a point to remember the difficult moments he had to face during Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985).
"From the first to the seventh edition, I had to submit the films to censorship. Only from the eighth edition on was I able to show the films without any previous censorship", he says.
Cinema Sem Fim has a history that is comparable to that of a solid international event. However its history has also followed the history of Brazil.
"It’s not just 30 years of Mostra, but 30 years of Brazilian history", he states. He also mentioned that he never thought he would see Mostra come to its thirtieth anniversary. "I never imagined to get this far. I was shocked when I saw that the first Mostra had been a success. At that time, there was already pressure to hold a second edition," he remembers.
At a certain point in the conversation, Cakoff was asked by filmmaker Evaldo Mocarzel about his view of cinema, philosophically speaking. He readily answered: "Let’s keep it simple, let’s not complicate things. Let’s not take away from the public the value of discovery."
Maybe the secret to the Mostra’s success is exactly this ability of its organizer to respect and value his public. Among hundreds of guests, with celebrities like Hector Babenco, Dráuzio Varela and wife Regina Braga, Cakoff made it a point to finger-point Lídia Maria Lisboa de Menezes, a doctor from Sergipe state who, since 2001, travels from Aracaju to São Paulo just to watch the film screenings at the Mostra.
It’s for people like Dr. Menezes that Cakoff makes the Mostra. Philosophically speaking, it’s as simple as that.