As the train chugs away separating young Augusto from his mother and mentor forever, the pain and hopelessness is easily translated across the silver screen.
However, before he signs off the story of the painting prodigy, Chilean director Pablo Perelman offers a semblance of relief to the viewers in the form of a faint smile that crosses the boys face as he sits lonely in the train, fearless and unaware of the tragedy that just struck him.
That one gesture of hope could be one of the many reasons why the audience at the 16 International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) loved Mr Perelman’s film `The Painting Lesson. The film, which was screened for a second time to a packed audience at the Sree Padmanabha Theatre on Monday, is based on a novel of the same name by Chilean artist and writer Adolfo Couve.
Set in the backdrop of the military coupe of 1973 in Chile, the film explores the dynamics of the relationship between its three main characters whose lives are changed forever by a single incident during the turmoil of the revolution.
"The Painting Lesson is one of those lesser known works of Couve, who himself was an artist. It is a beautiful small story set in the scenic settings of a rural province. It is about a group of artistically oriented people of this place whose life and social milieu is in some way changed by this talented boy. The film is a metaphor for what we were deprived of in the military coupe that followed the revolution,’’ said Mr Perelman talking to The Hindu.
Having himself been a part of the revolution as a youngster Mr Perelman has tried to showcase the reality of the revolution and how it touched the lives of the common people caught between the revolutionaries and the conservatives.
``The 1970s revolution was a period of hope and resistance. It is our national and my personal epic and it will remain a part of me and my works,’’ said the renowned film-maker who has directed three feature films before. `The Painting Lesson’, which is a co-production of Chile, Mexico and Spain, is his first adapted screenplay.
Mr Perelman, who considers literature as the big brother of cinema, says that the film is not a mere translation but an adaptation of Couve’s novel. ``People say adapting and modifying an original literary work is betrayal. Although it may sound paradoxical I think translation is betrayal and that in order to be faithful to a book you may have to adapt it in your own creative way,’’ he said.
He however adds that he wouldn’t attempt to make a film from works that have attained cult status like those of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. ``That is not just because of the fact that his works would be difficult to remake, but also because I don’t believe in commercial exploitation of literature in the name of cinematic adaptation,’’ he said.
Talking about the economics of film-making in Latin America Mr Perelman said that the mainstream film industry there has been largely dominated by Hollywood films.
"The market for artistically oriented regional films is very less. That is why we now go for pan Latin-American co-productions,’’ he said adding that he was overwhelmed by the audience participation at IFFK.
"I have been to Kerala once before in 2002. I was here to shoot a documentary on Chileans working abroad. It is wonderful to be back and I am enjoying my time here,’’ he said.