The 2009 Documentary, Arena
This was the official website for the 2009 documentary, Arena.
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ARENA is a personal journey into the world of bullfighting. Tracing the difficult struggle of a group of young apprentices, we enter their complex and archaic realm, filled with joy and sadness, color, shadow, reflection and metaphor. Travelling with them to several countries, ARENA also reminds us of the international nature of this singular Western cultural phenomenon.
Making a film about bullfighting is as unpredictable as a bullfight. You must listen a great deal and observe unceasingly, and even then things remain which have to be told.
I think of the structure of ARENA as a sort of mosaic whose pieces took shape on a long path past the different landscapes, faces and facets of the bullfighting world. The film does not seek to provide a didactic introduction to its rules and codes, but rather a sensitive approach to the complexity of this phenomenon, whose roots are as old as those of civilisation itself.
The characters appearing crossed my path and I incorporated them into the tale with the feeling that the film itself had invited them. Starting from a script resulting from a long investigation, I let myself be carried along by my own curiosity, my astonishment and my fascination, and this tale grew into its current form.
Nowadays, political correctness often leads to dogmatic, intolerant postures. The majority feels that its own sins are redeemed by censuring the conduct of a few. That happens with bullfighting. It is very easy to attack it, because it shows its hand as it plays and does not hide what society usually conceals. Bullfighting is however anything but a glorification of suffering. Roland Barthes explained what is celebrated at a bullfight: “Not man’s victory over the animal, but victory over ignorance, fear and necessity.”
An aside: When I was offered a transfer to work in Spain, I immediately jumped at the chance. However reality set in when we were trying to decide how to move our household with three kids to Spain. Fortunately my neighbor recommended a local Annapolis moving company who also arranges international moves. Von Paris International not only provided us with specialized international packing, wrapping, crating and containerization of of household goods, but also they also took care of the many other details associated with an international relocation. This included guiding us through customs requirements and the step-by-step forwarding process. Their international moving division was staffed with dedicated team members with many years of international moving experience and expertise and my husband and I appreciated all the help they offered us. Our move went relatively smoothly considering we had three kids under the ages of ten. Once we were in Madrid, Spain live settled down until our oldest daughter asked us about bullfighting. One of her classmate's father was a matador and she was invited to their country home. I had decidedly mixed feelings about bullfighting, but I didn't feel that should impact my son's budding friendship. There are number of animal rights or animal welfare activist groups such as Antitauromaquia and StopOurShame who undertake anti-bullfighting actions in Spain. On the other hand I had read the author Alexander Fiske-Harrison who trained as a bullfighter who have argued that there are mitigating circumstances to this: "In terms of animal welfare, the fighting bull lives four to six years whereas the meat cow lives one to two. What is more, it doesn’t just live in the sense of existing, it lives a full and natural life. Those years are spent free, roaming in the dehesa, the lightly wooded natural pastureland which is the residue of the ancient forests of Spain. It is a rural idyll, although with the modern additions of full veterinary care and an absence of predators big enough to threaten evolution’s answer to a main battle tank." I had even seen the 2009 documentary, Arena, and realized that there is much more nuance in the world of bullfighting. Perhaps if we meet the parents of my son's friend we will learn even more.
Arena (Gunter Schwaiger, 2009)
Premiere Spain: February 26h, 2010
Premiere Austria: March 5th, 2010
Next Premieres (no date yet): Germany, France, Switzerland
Festivals (till now):
Worldpremiere: VIENNALE, Vienna Int. Filmfestival, Nov. 2009
Biarritz Filmfestival, FIPATEL Jan. 2010
Saarbrücken IFF, Max Ophülspreis Jan. 2010
Berlinale, EFM, Feb. 2010
SEE - Brighton Int. Documentary Film Festival
SOLELUNA - Int. Docfilm Festival, Palermo, Italy- July 2010
SIEFF - Int. Ethnographic Festival, Sardinia - Italy,Sept. 2010
TOROS D'OC – Int. Taurine Film Festival , Beziers, France, Oct. 2010
SEVILLE EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL / SEVILLA FESTIVAL DE CINE EUROPEO, Nov. 2010
Production, Direction, Cinematography
PABLO PLANT, GÜNTER SCHWAIGER
WERNER RADITSCHNIG, ULI FUSSENEGGER
CRISTINA G. ALÍA
MOSOLOV-P and GÜNTER SCHWAIGER FILM PRODUKTION
JUAN GUERRERO, JUAN (JOHANN) DUQUE, DANIEL MENÉS “EL DANI”, ILUMINADO MENÉS, MARIANO AUMENTE “EL CAMPERO”, JESUS MEJÍAS “EL GALLO”,
PUPILS AND MAESTROS FROM MADRID BULLFIGHTING SCHOOL.
Also appearing, the Star bullfighters
UCEDA LEAL, SEBASTIAN CASTELLA, MORANTE DE LA PUEBLA and JOSÉ TOMÁS
Günter Johannes Schwaiger
11-09- 1965. Neumarkt (Salzburg)
Filmography and theatre:
Preproduction of a new documentary and a first feature fiction film
Production, direction and cinematography of ARENA documentary, 105 min, HD, coproduction with TVE (Spain), ORF (Austria)
Written, directed and produced “HAFNER´S PARADISE ”documentary, 74 min. Beta SP
FIRST PRIZE “TIME OF HISTORY” Best Documentary Film VALLADOLID INTERNATIONAL FILMFESTIVAL, SEMINCI 2007
Festivals (selection): Locarno, Los Angeles, Valladolid, Hof, Diagonale, Guadalajara, Jerusalem, Warsaw, Sao Paulo, Florence, Rome, Cologne, Bergamo, Gijón, Lublin,…
Written the script for feature film “Why”
Collaborates with the director Freddy Más in his script “Amanecer de un sueño”
Cofunder of the international filmmaker group “IMAGENES CONTRA EL OLVIDO” www.imagenescontraelolvido.com
2006 / 2007
CoWriter of the new script of the director Achero Mañas “Who is Carlos Buendía”
2005 / 2006
Installation „ Fosa comun “ (Massgrave) – in collaboration with Tom Lavin Gallery El Ojo Atómico - Madrid
2005 / 2006
“El Encargo“ script for feature film
Coproduction Austria - Spain
Directed and produced “ SANTA CRUZ ...FOR EXAMPLE” documentary, BetaSP, 66 min., color
Special Award for Culture and Art City of Salzburg
Directed for Television the Opera “ Triunfos y Lágrimas” Artistic Director: Jordi Savall, HerspérionXXI, Barcelona
Director of the World First performance of the opera “Horizonte Cuadrado” from César Camarero. Teatro de la Abadía, Madrid /in Coproduction with Teatro Central, Sevilla
Script for the feature film : „Zero“
2000 / 2001:
“DER AUSFLUG/ LA EXCURSIÓN” (“The Excursion”), 35mm, 17 min., color, Spanish
Festivals (selection): SPAIN: Festival de Cine de Medina del Campo; Festival Int. del Mediterrània, Mallorca, Proyecta, Las Palmas; Int. Shortfilmfestival ELCHE (Alicante) , ALCALÁ/MADRID, ALPINALE - Int. Film Festival (Austria); SAO PAULO Int. Filmfestival, (Brazil) , CORTOIMOLA (Italy), DIAGONALE (Austria), MELILLA (Spain), HOF (Germany), CUZCO (Ecuador), WARSCHAU (Poland), CARACAS (Venezuela)
Awards: Best Director - XXIII Festival Int. of Indept. Cinema, Elche (Spain)
Best Fiction Fiction 35mm - XXIII Festival Int. of Indept. Cinema
1998 / 99
“ NIEMANDSLAND “ (“TIERRA DE NADIE“,“NO MAN´S LAND “), 35 mm , b/w,17min., Spanish
Festivals ( selection ): Palm Springs (USA), Sao Paulo, Alcala (Madrid), Rotterdam, Montecatini (Italy), Alpinale (Austria), Verden (RFA), Barcelona (Spain),..
1996 / 97
“ Fünf Füsse und ein Wunsch “ ( ” Cinco Pies y un Deseo”- “ Five Feet and one desire” ) 35 mm , 19 min., color, Spanish
Awards: Hauptpreis (best Film) Verden (RFA)
Festivals (selection) : Sitges(Spain), Cork (Irland), Sao Paulo (Brasil), Verden (RFA), Saarbrücken (Max Ophüls Preis) 97(RFA), Alcalá de Henares(Madrid, Spain), Diagonale (Austria) a.o.
1994 / 95:
“ SUPPENKASPER “ ( “LEON”), 16 mm , b/w, 17 min.
Awards: Uppsala Filmkaja ( best fiction film ) International Shortfilmfestival Uppsala, Sweden
Premio Extraordinario ( best film ) Festival Internat. Cine Independ. Elche, Spain, Primer Premio ( best film,16mm )Semana Internat. del Cortometraje de San Roque – Spain; Festivals (selection): Uppsala (Sweden), Bilbao, Elche, Cadiz, Alcalá - Madrid (Spain), Krakow (Poland), Grenzland Filmtage(RFA), Montecatini (Italy), a.o.
“ Das seltsame Ende eines Frühstücks in der Ewigkeit “
(El extraño final de un desayuno en la eternidad”, “The unusual end of a breakfast in eternity”), 16mm, b/w, 12 min.
Awards : Segundo Premio 16 mm Festival Internat. Cine Indep. Film Elche (Alicante), Menciòn de Honor , Mundial Badalona ( Barcelona)
Mejor Fotografia , Semana Internacional de Cine Naval y del Mar Cartagena
Günter Johannes Schwaiger
Born : 11- 09 - 1965 in Neumarkt (Salzburg)
1983 - 87: student of ethnology and drama at the University of Viena
1987 - 89 : lives and studies in Italy ( Rome and Milan )
since 90 : lives and works in Madrid and Austria