JDIFF 2013: Pablo

 

Michelle Cunningham gets drawn into the world of Pablo, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013).

Pablo

Tue, 19th February
Light House 2
18.05
93mins

Pablo is a beautifully made film documenting the life and works of Pablo Ferro, a self-taught animator, celebrated film title designer, who comes across as quite an endearing and modest artist. Pablo began his career as a cinema usher after moving to the US from Cuba at the age of 12. He then went on to create commercials, design graphic novels and work with animators such as Stan Lee, the editor of Marvel comics. Pablo was a pioneer of quick-cut editing, “multiple screen” (famously used for the first time in the original Thomas Crown Affair) and counts the phenomenal trailer and opening title for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove among his best known work.

This documentary combines live action, old archive footage, photographs, animation and collage of images to tell the personal and professional story of Ferro. Throughout the film Ferro maintains a background presence; a passive genius interpreting a lifetime of events as history speeds by.

The laid back style of Jeff Bridges narration suits Goldgewicht’s documentary perfectly. Various anecdotes about Ferro from cinematic icons such as Angelica Huston and Jon Voight and artistic icons such as Stan Lee and Steven Heller engage the audience from the outset.

As well as documenting his amazing body of work at a professional level, there are also little pieces of personal history woven into the story, through interviews with his ex-wife, children and friends. There are beautiful animated montages illustrating what life was like in his apartment in New York during the 60s. The apartment appears as a socialites’ hub, and a den of sex, drugs and everything else that was prevalent in the bohemian culture of the 60s as well as the place where he mysteriously gets shot in the neck.

During the Q&A after the screening Richard Goldgewicht described how the structure of the film came about. The film took over 5 years to make, beginning as a series of interviews with Pablo which were originally meant for a tv series. Initially it was just 40 interviews, then came the narrative ‘and who better than the dude to do it’ – (said of Jeff Bridges), followed by the animated pieces and archive footage. Goldgewicht described how fantastic it is in America with regards to copyright of material and how he could use Clockwork Orange footage in his film and as long as he stated ‘copyright by’…he could use any footage he wanted. This, he said is a huge benefit to documentary makers in the states as not many other countries have this luxury.

Regarding this particular style of film Goldgewicht described the blending of media as a contemporary approach to filmmaking and many of the animated scenes were born out of necessity rather than a wholly planned part of the film.

There was also a certain process of Pablos ‘coming around’ to the idea of the movie. He does feature quite regularly throughout the film but wasn’t very forthcoming with all the details of his personal life – Goldgewicht discovered quite a lot from his interviews with Ferros ex-wife, friends and children.

A groundbreaking visionary, the embodiement of the American dream, the classic tale of the rags to riches immigrant, the rise and fall of American cinema, there is much going on in Richard Goldgewicht’s biopic of Pablo Ferro. Yet the way this story is told both visually and through the narrative thoroughly entertains and captivates the audience. This documentary would be of particular interest to those in the film industry, the design industry and the animation industry but primarily it is an interesting story of a man’s life during a revolutionary time in the worlds of art culture and politics.

Michelle Cunningham

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