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A look behind the documentaries

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

08:19, August 27, 2012

Provided to China Daily

Two prestigious documentary film festivals - Documenta Madrid and DocsDF will join hands and showcase nearly 20 award-winning films in Beijing for the first time.

These films not only portray the truths of local societies and humanity, but they also explore the many creative features of contemporary documentary filmmaking.

Audiences will also have the opportunity to interact with the leaders of the film festivals, as well as film directors from Spain and Mexico.

Two Mexican directors, Roberto Olivares and Jonathan D. Amith, brought their film, Silvestre Pantaleon (picture), and explained the story behind it. Few Mexican filmmakers would risk working independently and making the indigenous peoples their focus.

The opening film, Silvestre Pantaleon, is voiced entirely in the Nahuatl language of southern Mexico and looks at the lives of the elderly in Mexico's indigenous villages, religious syncretism and the difficulties faces by artisan producers in these communities.

The project was two years in the making but turned out to be profitable. Olivares reveals that half of the profits generated from the feature film, and from prizes won at film festivals, has been sent to the story's main protagonist, the aging Silvestre Pantaleon.

Award-winning Spanish director Sergio Oksman also came to Beijing and shared his documentary A Story for the Modlins. In the story, Elmer and Margaret Modlin devoted their lives to becoming famous and noteworthy, Elmer as a film actor and Margaret as a painter. However, they were never acknowledged. When they died in Madrid, their belongings ended up in a garbage can. The movie reflects on both posterity and eternal rest.

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