Ángel Loza (filmmaker)
“If being idealistic and romantic is not trendy , then I am anti – fashion”
"ARDE MAGAZINE" por Nina Kosmac
“WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD?” This is the question formulated by the brilliant filmmaker Ángel Loza . This is the question he throws out to people all over the world, inviting them to participate in his new initiative. So, if you want your voice to be heard, simply send in your answer to this question and participate in the conscious process of making the planet a better place. You would also thereby become a co-star in Angel Loza’s next documentary entitled ”WAKE UP! / ¡DESPIERTA!”.
The main setting of this documentary film was the “ROTOTOM SUNSPLASH 2011 EUROPEAN REGGAE FESTIVAL” of Benicàssim (Castellón de la Plana, Spain). This festival was chosen because its theme last year was dedicated to the worldwide improvement of human rights, sustainable development, unity, love, peace and positivity – in a conscious effort to build “Another Possible World ”. The ideological concept of the festival matches perfectly the values, lifestyle and philosophy of Angel Loza, author, scriptwriter, moviemaker and producer.
Angel Loza is a well-rounded and well-integrated individual with strong moral and ethical values. He is a man of fine sensibility, great knowledge and expansive generosity. He is possessed of a sharp and critical mind, and his perspicacity, combined with his goodness of heart, make him a true philosopher rather than a mere spokesman for a cause. In my opinion, this filmmaker is one of the few people alive capable of selecting and combining the exclusively positive values of the hippie and punk movements. The hippie movement, from its very inception, wanted to abolish violence and establish peace among all men and women. Although few people are aware of it, the punk movement at some point, promoted very positive concepts such as the importance of helping the youth and cultivating friendship, the need to establish an individual and common goal and to fight for this goal, and the need to be a fierce protector of the environment. Angel Loza possesses a rebellious spirit and an extremely critical mind that is permanently concerned with putting an end to social injustice and social inequalities. He approaches these problems with rare insight and wisdom. The sparkle in his eyes reflects the purity of his somewhat playful and childlike soul. Anyone who gets the chance to spend time with him will notice immediately his natural ability to put people totally at ease. One can sense his positive energy and his genuine love for all of humanity. His vibrant optimism and overflowing vitality are contagious. He is variously considered to be a hero, a spiritual guide, a wise man, even an angel on earth. To many he is simply a man with a huge heart, who works tirelessly, through the great contribution made by his cinematographic work, to raise awareness of, and to expose, the social injustices and social evils that plague modern society worldwide.
He first began to put his thoughts down on paper after a painful romantic break -up and since that moment he has never stopped. For the past 26years he has devoted himself, body and soul, to film-making . Angel Loza’s work has won international acclaim. His body of work has received numerous prizes and awards in many different countries. He has received 38 prizes in Spain, 4 in the United States, 3 in Italy. He has also won awards in Mexico, Bolivia, Hungary, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cyprus and Austria. The film which has won the most accolades is: “HERO. WINGS ARE NOT NECESSARY TO FLY”. It has been selected to participate in 121 festivals throughout the world, and has won a Goya Award, the Spanish equivalent of the American Academy Awards, for the Best Documentary Short Film. This film is open to many interpretations and tells the story of Pascal Kleiman, a successful techno music disc jockey, who was born without arms. With its almost three-dimensional images, its superb sense of rhythm and the sensitivity of some scenes, “HERO. WINGS ARE NOT NECESSARY TO FLY” is pure poetry.
It was a real privilege for me to interview someone as unique as Angel Loza, a person who sees clearly with his heart and who speaks straight from the heart. Below is the full text of our long and meaningful conversation.
Could you tell us a little bit about your next movie: “WAKE UP! / ¡DESPIERTA”?
The concept of making a film entitled “WAKE UP!” has been playing around in my mind for some time. The title “WAKE UP!” refers to my wish to ‘wake up’ the sleeping conscience of mankind.
Do you mean the collective conscience?
Yes. But I mean both the individual and the collective conscience. I believe that at the present time we are living at the most important moment of human evolution. The human being has always been guided by the subconscious. If we had been guided by our conscious minds, I think things would have developed differently.
Do you believe that the “end of the world” simply refers to as a new awakening of the collective consciousness?
I firmly believe that it is so, and I am quite positive that a lot of people share my beliefs. I say this with confidence because of the conversations I have on a daily basis with so many people of widely different backgrounds. I sense that the awakening process has started, but obviously it still needs to “click” before the process can really gain momentum .
You have chosen the Rototom Sunsplash European Reggae Festival 2011 of Benicassim (Castellon, Spain) as the location for your upcoming movie ”WAKE UP!” Were you able to ask 230 000 people what would they do to change the world?
If I had managed to interview 230 000 people, I would certainly have earned a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records! (laughter). I would like to point out that last year´s festival was the 18th staging of Rototom Sunsplash, and it was the longest on record. I interviewed people from different cultural backgrounds, races and age groups, among them children with functional disabilities and adults with some kind of disability. In fact, I truly believe we are all ‘handicapped’ in some way, because we all have disabilities and limitations .
Do you think there are some people who are incapable of loving and are, therefore, emotionally disabled?
Yes, I do believe that such people exist. They are the worst kind of people and I am say it because they are a danger both to themselves and to society at large. I genuinely feel sorry for emotionally handicapped people. This type of handicap should be regarded as extremely dangerous.
A thought about the spiritual crisis just crossed my mind. I truly believe that the world is experiencing a terrible spiritual crisis. Such a crisis generates general discontent . For one reason or another we are not happy and many times our discomfort is self-imposed – caused by our own unconscious limitations.
Do you believe there is a moral crisis as well?
Yes, definitely. I believe there is a global moral crisis, a crisis of values and of ethics. Moral values would be markedly improved if we all made more of a determined effort to make the world a better place on a daily basis, by developing self-control over our own attitudes to and responses to everyday situations. If we could always exercise self -control,everything would be quite different… I believe that the ego is humanity’s worst enemy. Therefore, we need to work on improving ourselves... It is a fact that everything changes, so changes are happening and will continue to do so. So, it is important that we accept external change, but, to my mind, we must first make a change inside ourselves.
How can we defeat the ego, practice solidarity and become more positive?
It is a hyper-delicate issue, because you never know what the human mind is capable of… One of the root problems is that we are being dominated by our minds. For centuries the human being has been dominated by the mind, and remember – the human brain is the most powerful tool we possess. If we wish to practice consciousness and be truly aware, we must use our mind to ‘wake–up’ our consciousness, instead of allowing our mind to use us. If we could manage to do that, we would have less internal conflict, therefore more inner peace. This freedom from internal conflict would determine our new ‘state of mind’ and negativity and conflict would diminish. We have to keep in mind that negativity is highly contagious. Fortunately for us, positivity is also contagious. Sadly, however, the ego often allows negativity to dominate our lives.
Could we make the world a better place by allowing ourselves to be guided by our hearts?
Yes, most definitely! I truly believe that the world would be a much better place, if we all followed our hearts.
Can we learn to see with the eyes of the heart?
Yes, we can – and we should!
You have held interviews with world-renowned personalities such as Rita Marley, widow of reggae legend BobMarley, and their children, Stephen Marley, Ziggy Marley and Ki Many Marley , with Shirin Ebadi, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Winner and a non-violent women’s and children’s rights advocate, with Bernard Cassen, who coined the term ‘anti –globalization’ , with Vandana Shiva Alternative Nobel Prize Winner and world-renowned environmental leader, famous for her fight against nuclear power plants, with Ali Campbell, founding member, songwriter and lead vocalist of the band UB40, with Jimmy Cliff, Jamaican musician, singer and actor, with Leo Bassi, multifaceted artist: comic ,clown and actor, with Donna Hope, inter alia. Would you mind sharing with us some of their proposals on how to change the World?
Certainly. I was lucky to be able to have exclusive conversations with all of these people. Some of the people you mentioned attended the Rototom festival to perform, while others participated in the social forum – an activity that ran parallel to the festival. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi attended Rototom’s social forum, which also hosted Tobin Tax campaigner Bernard Cassen and environmental activist Vandana Shiva. Last year’s festival paid tribute to the legendary reggae musician, Bob Marley, on the 30th anniversary of his death, with concerts by his wife Rita, backing singer in Bob Marley & The Wailers, and the most famous of his children, Ziggy, Ki Many and Stephen. I’ve maintained spiritual conversation with some of them and held meaningful interviews with others. I also had the chance to speak with Ali Campbell, former singer of UB 40. During our conversations we touched on many topics and he willingly answered all my questions. I let the conversation flow smoothly and naturally and that made the moment magical turning it into an enriching experience for all the parties. During such magical moments of free-flowing conversation, people are not inhibited by thoughts of what critics might think, so they tend to speak truthfully, directly and from the heart.
My spiritual conversation with Stephen Marley was held on a bus, where I asked him the following questions amongst others. I first asked him who the real infuence was behind his decision to become a musician, then I asked what he considered to be the best advice that his father had passed down to him, and finally, I ased him what he would do to change the world.
He told me that his father had been the real infuence behind his decision to become a musician. In response to my second question, he said that the greatest advice his father had given to him was to be honest at all times, no matter what. As to how he would change the world, he said that he believed that some day music was going to change the world. He also said that he would try to help the change to happen by using his music as a tool in building a better world . Some of the moments that we shared together were really magical, mostly because of the fact that we spoke from the heart.
Let´s keep in mind that it is the really the public who plays the leading role in the film “Wake Up!”. In response to my original question: “WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD?” I have received via e-mail all kinds of answers – some of them very general and other very specific. I have also received numerous messages on the wall of the facebook events page, some of them very extensive indeed!
Where will the movie premiere be held?
The official film premiere will almost certainly take place at The Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival 2012, the main setting for the film. Many other premieres are also scheduled to take place in various location, both in Spain and abroad.
What does music mean to you?
For me music is somewhat like a movie character that plays an important role in all my films. Music is magical and it is connected with other invisible worlds. Since music is capable of changing a person’s state of mind, I am sure it also possesses the ability to change the world. On my forearm I have a tattoo in my mother’s handwriting. The tattoo is my own creation and my own design. It reads: ”On the day that music was invented the days had no name.” Since the day music was invented the days were nameless and since I have the tattoo music is always with me. Music always has the ability to touch my heart. Music is always in my heart. When the meaning of my tattoo was revealed to some of the musicians performing at the festival, among them Stephen Marley and B.B. King´s drummer, they wanted to be photographed with it. The four earrings that I wear also have a symbolic meaning. For thousands of years, sailors believed that cape Horn was the edge of the world – a graveyard for any sailors that ventured beyond it. Sailor’s who survived the journey round Cape Horn would get their ears pierced in order to wear hoop earrings. I got my ears pierced for the first time simply as a sign of rebellion. The next three times, however, I repeated the process after having overcome difficult periods in my life. The last piercing was for the movie “ Quiet Men”, since that was a long and painful journey.
As a teenager I used to listen to all kinds of music, but mainly to punk. I still do now, since I have never closed the door to any musical genre. There is nothing you can do if a song simply touches your heart. During my upbringing my parents used to listen to Antonio Machín and Flamenco music. I recall them singing and clapping while listening to flamenco music. I remember being a kid and saying :“ Oooh, here come the Indians …” I use to say it with respect. Many years later I had the opportunity to meet many of the flamenco musicians whose music my parents used to listen to. Flamenco music is not something I listen to on a daily basis, but I realize that is music comes from the soul – and whatever comes form the soul is of key importance. Musical genres are only labels created and used by humans. Iremember meeting Laurel Aitken, the “Godfather of ska”, when I was younger. The conversation we had about Antonio Machín prompted me to record in Spanish some of Machin´s songs – and I’m saying this for first time in public. By the way, Bob Marley told me that he was a fan of Antonio Machin too.
The movie´s opening scene starts with a song by Bob Marley … What does his music mean to you?
The first scene starts with a song by Bob Marley, but I am not going to say anything else, because “Wake Up!” is worth waiting for. “Wake up!” is not a Reggae movie, however, and the festival was only its main set. I’ve always said that no matter what the occasion, circumstance or state of mind, I am always ready to listen to Bob Marley´s music. I can listen to his tunes anytime, day or night. I don’t think I can say that of any other musician.
The festival always supports initiatives for the legalization of marijuana. There was also an open debate on the topic. What are your views on the legalization of cannabis?
Bob Marley and many other considered it a sacred plant. Its healing properties for medical use have been amply proven. Personally, I do not think that its legalization would create more addicts. Alcohol is a much more terrible drug, despite the fact that it is socially accepted. Sometimes alcohol withdrawal leads to delirium tremens that can be worse than the so-called ‘cold turkey’ of heroin withdrawal! Controversial matters should be viewed from all angles, even from a 360 degrees perspective. Marijuana could be a sacred plant, and, who knows, could perhaps in certain circumstances help some people open their minds.
Do you believe that all parents are some sort of heroes?
It depends on the parents and the children, but in my case my parents were and are my heroes. They have proven themselves to me in so many ways. My parents have transmitted me so many values and they continue to do so. I recall saying in front of 1500 people at the Capitol Cinema of Madrid during the premiere of “HERO. WINGS ARE NOT NECCESARY TO FLY “, that I remembered how my dad, who was a woodworker, used to carve wood. He would touch it and caress it gently before beginning to carve. This was his unique way of cutting and working with wood. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that he had instilled in me, among other positive things, the importance of working with love and dedication. He transmitted me his insight into the way all work should be approached. He conveyed his knowledge to me unconsciously and naturally. I can say exactly the same about my mother, who always lavished affection on her family. Everything that she did and still does, is done in a caring and affectionate way. I think such caring behaviour can be contagious.
Unconditional love is fundamental. Love has, indeed, the power to change things. Although sometimes, without knowing it, we can be our own worst enemy and we have to struggle against our baser instincts, at the same time, we all have within us the ability and the strength to change and to become, through conscious effort, whatever it is we wish to become. Obviously, the mundane or material world surrounding us matters, but no-one will ever remember us as the individual who owes 20 euro to the telephone company. What really matters is what we are able to transmit to others, because that is the only thing that really remains. Ever since I was a child I have heard that you are not truly dead until there is no one left who remembers you.
Is there a hero in all of us?
I do believe we can all become heroes or something similar to what a lot of people consider to be a hero. It is very difficult to define a hero, because its meaning and interpretation may vary from person to person. We can all become heroes at some point of our lives, since we all have opportunities during our lives to show heroic qualities. We can´t really know for sure how we would act in response to any given situation. We can imagine what our response would be, but all too often life proves us wrong! While filming “Hero. Wings are not necessary to fly”, a person at The Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s central square, said to me: “For me, a hero is a person who, when he is scared, instead of running away from a problem, runs towards it. A person who can do that is a hero to me.” That is the film´s crowning touch.
What remains of the Spanish cultural movement called “Movida”?
Only the corpse remains, and I have to laugh in order not to cry at thought of it. We passed from dictatorship to democracy. A democracy read between the lines. We went through a political and social transition. On the one hand big changes occurred, but on the other hand lots of drugs entered Spain, therefore many people at that time began to dig their own graves. Culturally speaking, there was an important and very fervent social change. During my teenage years, as I said earlier, I followed the Punk movement, which, I believe, was the most influential and important movement, after the hippie one .Punk characterized the ‘70’s and not just because of its look and its music. To me punk and rebellion walked hand-in-hand written in gold capital letters .
Why do people constantly find excuses in order not to engage in solidarity actions?
I think it s because of their ego. Hypocrisy and cynicism have a lot to do with it as well. Some individuals consider themselves to be the centre of the universe and believe that the world revolves around them…
Is life a struggle?
Jose Saramago said: “Life is a struggle and the struggle never ends”. I do believe it is necessary to fight. We need to fight and work to improve ourselves. Initially, progress is achieved through love, but the progress is sustained by long periods of discipline. We have to work a lot to achieve a little. At least that is how I have found it to be. There is no art without discipline, nor discipline without sacrifice.
Does it take courage to make social cinema?
It takes courage to follow your own conscience.
Which award do you value most?
I value all of them. I consider them all heavenly gifts and I treasure them since they have been given to me for a reason. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I recall that I was presented with a prize in the exact same bar in Seville where many years previously my parents met for a drink. They were not married at that time. If that is not magical, then tell me what is? Another important award was the one I received at the I’VE SEEN FILMS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. This is very special to me because the jury’s decision was unanimous. The jury consisted of: Rutger Hauer, Ridley Scott, Paul Verhoeven, Robert Rodriguez, Richard Gere, Bill Bristow, Ludovico Einaudi, Massimo Maisetti, Annie Perkins and Chiara Valenti Omero. The award is followed by all the other prizes that I treasure in my memory and carry in my heart.
I know you´ve been asked this question before … Does winning a Goya open doors ?
According to the Argentinian comedy group Les Luthiers you only need two following words to open almost any door: Push and Pull…(laughter)
Tell us something about your fiction movie “Quiet Man”.
“Quiet Man” is a psychological portrait of a man controlled by his hyperactive attitude and arrogance, whose abuse of power and self-destructive behaviour make him follow a path of no return. More than 500 actors auditioned for the major roles in this film. The art director was the recognized Miguel Chang, who has a host mega-hit movies under his belt such as: “55 Days in Peking”, “Dune”, “Total Recall”, “Empire of the Sun”. The soundtrack of the movie includes works by significant bands such as Pink Floyd, Najwajean, Apollo 440, Carlos Jean and original compositions by Javier Camara. The leading role was played by the famous Portuguese actor Joaquim de Almeida. In the past he has shared the limelight with Richard Gere in “Beyond the Limit ” with Harrison Ford in “Clear and Present Danger”, with Antonio Banderas in “Desperado” and more recently with Gene Hackman in “Behind Enemy Lines”.
The movie received several international awards and collected a total of five prizes at the same festival. This established a record for the number of awards won at a single festival – a record that is yet to be beaten.
Let me add as a curiosity that shortly after its premiere, the movie became a cult movie as happened with “Hero. Wings are not necessary to fly.”
“Nina and Kiko” is an animated 3D series. Is it more difficult to write for children?
Yes, it is, because the choice and use of words requires special care. Most of the time I get along better with kids than adults. The world would be a much better place if it were ruled by men capable of seeing it through the eyes of their inner child. I enjoy any types of genres, fiction, documentary, etc….Genres are only labels.
Do you treasure many good memories?
I am fortunate to have many very good memories. Speaking of love… I love many people and I feel loved by many people as well. I can feel the overall universal love. I believe that it is love that makes the world go round and that happiness is all about being content and at peace with oneself. We should be consistent with our feelings, thoughts and actions .It is important to find the balance between body, mind and soul.
What is creativity to you?
Creativity is invisible and intuitive. The signs show us that everything happens for a reason. The signs indicate to you which path to follow, but it is your footsteps that pave the way and take you there.
Do you have any regrets?
Every time I hear somebody say that he or she does not regret anything, I chuckle quietly to myself in disbelief, but remain silent. If such a claim were true, it would be a real shame. There are things that we would not do again, and that is what is commonly called regret. I am human, therefore I do have regrets.
Do you consider yourself an idealist?
If being idealistic and romantic is not trendy, then I am out of fashion!
Have you always had the same social awareness as you have now?
I have always had some kind of social awareness. I come from a humble background. I was born to a family of immigrants that came from the Triana quarter arriving in Barcelona and Castellon. I’ve lived in an environment with great social disparities, so I have seen social inequality since I was a child. I grew up between the love of my family and the toughness of the streets. Many things that occurred during my childhood left their mark on me for life. Those were very hard times. In front of my house, there was a huge field of land. I shall write down many of the things that happened to me there for the script of my first feature movie. If I am lucky, I shall get started on the script some time later this year. For a long time I have been ready to make one or more full-length films Now is the perfect timing for filming, because we have the right set of cosmic circumstances.
Do you have any dreams and projects to fulfil?
I dream of many things, not only of movies. My biggest dream is to make movies that reach and move people´s hearts. It is a dream that has come true to some extent, and becomes more true day by day. This does not mean that taking forward a movie project is easy. Everything that really matters is hard to achieve, not just filming. Pascal in “Hero. Wings are not necessary to fly” says: ”All that is worthwhile in life is really hard to get”.
What are the consequences of negativity?
Some people, whom the astrologers call lower astrals, are on other frequencies and do us no good. We all have lower astrals. Most of the time they are people whom we attract, but who are really not good for us. On a small or large scale we all suffer the consequence of the negativity generated by the lower astrals. All our internal conflicts caused by such negativity affect the quality of our world.
For me it is very hard to understand why children suffer. A believer in reincarnation once told me that some souls choose to be born for a short period of time and die when still a baby or young child. This is a terrible and heart-wrenching sentence, and I have thought a lot about it. From the point of view of the everyday material world, all I can say is that many human tragedies occur as a consequence of some people`s egoism and ambition. Lots of people believe that wealth and a privileged social status will buy them a longer and better life. There is plenty of evidence to show that this is not necessarily true. I believe that so many people are completely blind to what really matters in life. Lots of people suffer from illnesses and hunger that could be prevented. We are experiencing a spiritual crisis, since so many people simply do not care about other people´s suffering and maltreatment.
Does power always lead to corruption?
Yes, I think it. History implies that it does. I shall be writing a phrase book soon and I might include this one…(laughter)
Angel Loza is a multi-faceted moviemaker, who has tried different genres such as fiction, documentary, video and 3D animation. His works are ground-breaking, entertaining and full of irony. All of them contain spiritual messages. Some of the titles of his filmography are: “THROBS”, “EVENT”. “GIVE UP DRUGS IN 24 DRUGS”, “WHERE IS ROBIN HOOD?”, “GLOUP GLOUP” , “CITY CITY”, “PUFF”, “IS PORRONES DEAD?”, “THE WEDDING”, “DETERLUX”, “SPEEDO” , “IN-SATISFACTION” , “QUIET MAN”, “WORLD OF DREAMS”, “WHAT WILL IT BE?”, “SILENCE IN HEARTS”, “DIFFERENCES” , “THINGS THAT DO NOT CHANGE”, “MY LIFE FOR 1000 EUROS”, “THE ESCORIAL AND THE POWER”, “HERO. “WINGS ARE NOT NECESSARY TO FLY”, “NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”, “NINA AND KIKO”.
The scenes of the movie “The Escorial” and “The Power” are unforgettably majestic and inspiring. It is the only movie in history on a global scale that has been done about the construction of the great royal Escorial monastery and the figure of the man that who had it built – King Philip II of Spain. Very soon it will be possible to download many of the following works of art on: http://angeloza.blogspot.com.es/ and http://vimeo.com/angeloza
I highly recommend everyone to watch any of his movies. Many of them can be life-changing – there is a “before“and “after“in the life of all who watch them. His films are intimate and lead us to introspection in a comprehensive yet simple way. The difference between Angel and many other directors is in the magic that he is able to recreate with his cinema, that invites us without manipulation and in a simple way to undergo a process of catharsis, that, ‘a posteriori’, turns us in better human beings.