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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/culture/mort...

Franco-Chilean director Raúl Ruiz dies in Paris

Translated Monday 22 August 2011, by Elaine Scott and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Announced by his producer François Margolin, Franco-Chilean film-maker Raúl Ruiz, aged 70, died on Friday morning in Paris, following a lung infection.

“He was not only a friend but one of the greatest ever living film-makers who had an extensive film catalogue which will remain in the history of cinema forever”, he declared.

Last year, the director received the Louis-Delluc prize, often described as the “Goncourt of Cinema”, for his epic film (4h26) “Mysteries of Lisbon”, centred on the life of the Lusitanian aristocracy.

Born in Chile on July 25th 1941, the director, who had been exiled to France upon the arrival of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1973, made several dozen films during his career as a thoroughly engaged artist.

This lover of literature studied law and theology before writing numerous theatre scripts. At the Locarno Film Festival in 1969, he presented his first feature length film, “Three Sad Tigers”, the story of three characters who cross paths in Santiago.

That same year, he married his colleague and compatriot Valeria Sarmento, editor on many of his films.

“He was finishing the editing of a film about his childhood in Chile. Also, he was preparing another film in Portugal about a famous Napoleonic battle, starring Melvil Poupaud”, continued his producer.

“He was a person from another time, who knew everything about everything, somebody with a cultural background from all walks of life and spanning two countries, Chile and France. He loved the mix of different cultures. He made films in different countries across the world. He was without doubt one of the greatest minds, beyond just cinema, but of our time,” he added.

His prolific and innovative work is at the same time intellectual, fun and dreamlike, influenced by Latin American novelists such as Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Borges.

Notably, he filmed “Three Lives and Only One Death” in 1995, one of the last roles played by Marcello Mastroianni who portrayed a character with multiple personalities. Selected at Cannes, the film became famous on the international stage.

“Nucingen House” was the first French film made by Raúl Ruiz filmed in his own country.

Ruiz propelled the comedian Melvil Poupaud into stardom by offering him his first cinema role in “City of Pirates” (1984) and later roles in a dozen other films including, “In a Mirror” (1986) and “Genealogies of a Crime” (1997).

The film-maker has also put his name to several adaptations of novels such as “Time Regained” written by Marcel Proust, starring Catherine Deneuve in the role of Odette and John Malkovich as Le Baron de Charlus. He also made “Nucingen House” by Balzac, starring Elsa Zylberstein.

Raúl Ruiz will be buried in Chile

“His body will be buried in Chile as was his wish”, declared the Chilean Minister of Education, Luciano Cruz-Coke, on his Twitter account, after sending his condolences to Valeria Sarmento, wife and colleague of the director.

A Religious Ceremony in France

His production company Alfama Films has announced that a religious ceremony will take place in Paris on Tuesday morning at St. Paul’s Church, in the Marais quarter.

Some reactions...

Jack Lang: “An extraordinary film-maker”

The former Minister of Culture, socialist Jack Lang, who named Raúl Ruiz in 1985 as the head of the House of Culture in Le Havre, thought that the Franco-Chilean was “an extraordinary film-maker, an accomplished symbol blending the cultures of Latin America and Europe.”

“After the coup d’état by (Augusto) Pinochet, our country became his.”

“In 1985, I wanted to name, as the head certain national institutions and venerable Houses of Culture, personalities originating from areas of the art world other than theatre — for example choreography, cinema or music. It is this title which I proposed to Raúl Ruiz, to take up the management of the venerable House of Culture at Le Havre”, he said.

“There, he created a new experience, sometimes controversial. I mean to say that Raúl Ruiz was, in every sense of the word, an inventor, a discoverer, an intrepid and courageous explorer.”

Cannes Film Festival honours Raúl Ruiz

The president of Cannes Film Festival, Gilles Jacob, has honoured the Franco-Chilean film-maker, Raúl Ruiz as a “storyteller of Arabian Nights” gifted with, as so often with the best latin American writers, “the imagination of incomparable extravagance”.

“He was a storyteller of Arabian Nights whose adventures, quirkiness, logic, incidents and deliberate identity swappings harkened back to the art of Stevenson (which he adapted) to the level of the Countess of Ségur. We miss him already.”

Several of Raúl Ruiz’s films have been entered into the Cannes Film Festival and he himself was part of the jury of the Festival in 2002.

He did not hesitate, in a humorous way, to describe the 2001 Cannes Film Festival as “great, indispensable trash bin”.


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