The film-maker, Javier Corcuera, has the same profound and melancholy look as his father, the great poet Arturo Corcuera, who passed on to him the memory of his friend, Javier Heraud.
Manuel Robles Sosa
Heraud is the fallen poet in a guerilla attempt on 15 May 1963, and his life and altruism are the focus of Corcuera’s most recent production, “Javier’s journey” (“El viaje de Javier”). It is a recently completed documentary film which he discusses with Prensa Latina in this interview.
Javier’s story of ideas and poetry has stayed with you ever since you were a child, told by your father, Arturo Corcuera, his great friend. It’s no coincidence that you have the same name or that you have been fascinated by him and his story so much that you decided to make the film…
Javier’s story marked my childhood. He was always like an absent member of the family, we always talked about him at family gatherings, in conversations with my father’s poetry friends when they were at the house. When I was little, I had this feeling that he was going to come back, that maybe I could meet him. Naturally, my father, as well has having a great friendship with Javier, he was like his brother, they shared a passion and great love for poetry. And that is why, a few years after Javier’s death when I was born, my father decided to give me the same name as someone he considered to be his brother. And so, the years passed and bit by bit I got to know, in great detail, his story and his poetry.
How has it not occurred to anyone in over 60 years to make a film about Javier, the poet, the guerilla, the eternal youth that saw his homeland as a sword in the air, an emblem of a generation and object of affection?
A documentary about Javier Heraud’s life has never been addressed before. And this year not only one has a film been made, but two. There is also a fictional film, and both have come at the right time. And, the most important point, they have arrived to talk to those young people that are the same age today as Javier Heraud.
My film “Javier’s journey”, is directed at them, at the young, because Javier always was a young rebel, someone who is an example for the youth of today, a reference.
And this is incredibly important to me, that the young know Javier Heraud because his poetry has not died, neither have his ideas.
Tell us about “Javier Heraud’s journey” which has created a lot of hype in Lima. Is it true that it will be featured at the Havana Festival, in the country that he loved so much and the place where he lived before leaving for the guerilla? And where, incidentally, he went to study cinema…
Javier spent some of his short life in Havana. He died when he was 21. But 1962 in Havana was a very important time; the revolution was in full swing.
In reality, he went to study cinema in Havana, but he never actually studied cinema because he met a group of Peruvians here and took the decision to be a part of a guerilla. Havana and the Cuban revolution were incredibly important to him, they made him take the decision to become a member of this guerilla, The National Liberation Army (El Ejército de Liberación Nacional).
Of course, I would love to show this film at the Havana Festival. I have been lucky enough to go to the festival with some of my other films and this, well, a clip will be showing there. Therefore, it is really important to me that “Javier’s journey” will be there and that people can watch it in Cuba.
How did Javier Heraud’s family take your idea to make a film about him? Being very attached to his family, as shown in his letters, they care a lot about his memory. Are there family memories in the film?
The Heraud family, and above all, his sister Cecilia, did not only invest in the film, they also helped me make it. They opened up their memory chest so that I could travel through Javier’s life.
And also, his great-niece, Arianca, who, when we were filming, was the same age as Javier when he was killed. The film is told by a 21-year-old, Javier’s age. It’s her reconstructing the memory of her great uncle and discovering who he is, and she sees that there is a story to tell and so shows the viewer.
Given the time that has passed, it must not have been easy to include Javier Heraud’s teachers, life companions and comrades in the film. Did you get stories from any of them?
Arianca, the protagonist, searches for anyone who knew Javier, Javier’s companions and she also travels to Puerto Maldonado, to the Amazon rainforest looking for any witnesses of Javier’s death. She, therefore, through unpublished letters, poems, photographs and stories of the people that were by his side, tries to construct her great-uncle’s story.
Would you say that with Javier’s death, Peru lost one of its best, irreplaceable friends? Why?
He was a person whose mission was to change Peru, to change his country and actually, Peru lost someone very valuable, not only because of his talent as a poet but also a person committed to building a different country.
Therefore, I think that Javier lives on, Javier’s dream lives on because the country which he gave his life to has not changed and therefore, there is still a job to do. This is why it is so important that my film is aimed at the young, a film that I hope will be a documentary that stays with its viewers and, even though the film is for everyone, it is important that the target audience is the young, those that are the same age as Javier when he died.
Do you have significant experience as a film-maker? Tell us about your work before “Javier’s journey”.
My work before this film was filmography, filming all over the world; a documentary during the occupation of Iraq, another filmed in Palestine, a film like “The back of the world” (“La espalda del mundo”) that took place in Peru, Texas and Turkish Kurdistan.
And the last two, filmed in my country, “Javier’s journey”, and the one before, a documentary film (“I’m still”) (“Sigo siendo”) which is a journey through the world of the Amazon, the Andean world and the Peruvian coast through popular music which was shown in cinemas in Peru.
It had a significant impact and I was also lucky enough to be able to show it at the Havana Festival.
Those that know you say that given your passion for film-making, it is very likely that, after this achievement, you are already looking at a new film…
Yes, I’m making a new film. It’s about a very important punk rock band called “La polla récord” which is a legendary band in Spain which also has a story to tell. I’m making this film and am in the early stages of investigation and preparation. (PL)
(Translated by Corrine Harries – Eemail: email@example.com)