With Cine Latino (December 6-12 ) launching an array of Latin American cinema at Cinema Paradiso in Perth this week, DAVID O’CONNELL spoke to festival ambassador and Australia’s favorite Venezuelan comedian, Iván Aristeguieta, about film, comedy, and that sacred Australian icon– the Bunnings’ sausage sizzle.
How did you end up a festival ambassador for Cine Latino?
I was named. I really liked the idea, because here in Australia there are not many Latinos in the media, and with my comedy career I have a bit of a profile. So I’m very glad I’m able to help with promoting Latin American films, and art…. and also my culture and language.
What does Cine Latino have to offer this year?
They’ve got 26 films from nine different countries, including three documentaries. There are comedies, drama, and award winning films. The premiere in Melbourne, a couple of nights ago, of the opening film was Roma. It is from Alfonso Cuarón, from Mexico, it’s a beautiful, beautiful film. His a portrait of his memories from childhood, Mexico in the 1970s from the point of view of his nanny, who was another mother and role model in his life. It is not a film that has a story arc, more a beautiful portrait of his childhood. It’s black and white, and every single frame of that movie…you could stop that movie at any time, and have a beautiful picture of Mexico in the 70s, that’s magnificent cinematography.
Are there any trends common in Latin American cinema at the moment?
Honestly I’m catching upon Latin American film, as I’ve been living in Australia focusing on my comedy career. There’s a documentary (No Dress Code Required) focusing a marriage equality in Mexico, very up to date with issues effecting the world at the moment. There’s a lot of films showing how strong women are. It’s a culture where the mother and grandma are much a main part of our upbringing. Roma is such a movie.
Why is film such a good insight into a culture?
Good film, and good storytelling has to elicit emotions, and emotions are what we share all over the world. Doesn’t matter about the colour of your skin, or your culture…we all share emotions. It’s a great communicator. We all feel sad, we all feel fear, we all feel joy, we all feel love. What makes us different is our approach to those situations. You can connect with any film in the world through emotion, but it’s in how different cultures approach those emotions that the difference lies.
….and comedy, is that also a good cross cultural connection?
I think sense of humour is the same all over the world, it’s about creating tension and releasing tension. The proof this is the serious sitcoms that have been dubbed all over the world (such as Seinfeld). What makes a comedy local is references. So if you watch a comedy from Argentina, you may lose a few jokes due to references, but the rest will be the same. The struggle the characters go through, how the deal with that, and the comedy you get from that, as they relieve the tension, is all the same.
I’m looking forward to a movie Almost Legends. It is an Argentinian movie that has a famous Spanish comedian Santiago Segura. He’s one of my favourite comedy actors from Spain, and I can’t wait to see his take on this film, with three guys going through a mid-life crisis.
What’s on the horizon for you?
Next year I’m going to do all the Comedy Festivals(and yes, Aristeguieta will be at the Perth Comedy Festival in 2019), for the first time I’m going to be at the Comedy Festival Christmas Gala in Canberra.
I’m working on a new show. It’s a work in progress at the moment called the Fourth Floor because in Latin America when you turn a new decade…. you go to the new floor. Next year I am turning 40, so it’s an audit of my life.
As Bunnings has appeared in your bio and in an episode of Lost in Pronunciation, I have to ask your opinions on the onions at a sausage sizzle? (this interview took place during the height of Sausagegate)
(laughs) There’s nothing more Australian than news of a sausage sizzle at Bunnings. I’m loving this! People say it’s un-Australian to change if the onion goes on the top or the bottom, and they don’t see the big point here…that everyone is going crazy about this on the news. It is a Nanny State! They don’t care if the onions are burnt or can give you cancer, it is all about slipping on the onions, falling and crack your head. So I really don’t care where you put the onion. It is all crazy… gluten free bread will be the next thing…..sugar free sauce…and then the world is over.