A strange newsreel report is all that recalls the glamorous past of the Cine Marrocos in São Paulo today. We see Irene Dunne, Erich von Stroheim and Abel Gance at the International Film Festival of Brazil 1954, walking up the red carpet to the opulent cinema palace, and Fubuki Koshiji stumbling and “revealing her delicate eastern foot” (original voiceover). Forty years later the twelve-floor building was suddenly empty, for two decades. When the announced renovation didn’t happen, a community of homeless people squatted there in 2013. At times more than 2,000 people from 17 countries lived in the gutted and graffiti covered ruin.
At the initiative of the eponymous film project, films from the first festival year were screened in the re-opened cinema and a theatre workshop was founded where the actor-squatters worked on iconic film scenes, for example from “Sunset Boulevard”, “La Grande Illusion”, “Julius Caesar” and “Sawdust and Tinsel.” On the backdrop of imminent eviction, the film documents the theatre work, “co-written” by broken biographies and resulting in cinematographic re-enactments. Norma Desmond, Marc Anthony, the circus rider Anne and the fighter pilot Maréchal literally become projection surfaces – for experiences as varied as war trauma, depression, disgust of affluence and post-colonial alienation.
(Esther Buss, DOK Leipzig)