Abdias Do Nascimento - Carlos Freire - Francis Bacon - Dina Vierny - Lino MIcchiche - Joel Barcellos - Otis Ferry

ABDIAS DO NASCIMENTO – The Brazilian National Treasure celebrates 90 years of a remarkable life and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. I was thrilled that I managed to be there for one of the many celebrations at his opening on 09-06-04 at the Solar Grandjean de Montigny PUC-RIO. The exhibition was part of VII Congresso da Brasa (Brazilian Studies Association). I spent two days with them including seminars with friends giving speeches about the life of Abdias do Nascimento. Elisa Larkin Nascimento – his wife and author of many books about the Afro-Brazilians – gave a talk on the Sunday morning and in the afternoon friends and luminaries from America and Brazil gave speeches on Abdias' life and his work for human rights. Abdias was sitting next to his son Osiris. Elisa was part of the panellist as was Mae Beata de Iemanja. (The following week I went to the Afro-Brazilian religion House of Candomble of the Priestess Mae Beata de Iemanja in the suburb of Rio de Janeiro. And I did go on Central Station – Central do Brasil – twice but nobody noticed me. I am saying this because the Brazilians that I know do not go near Central Station, because they usually get killed!) I was hugely influenced by Abdias do Nascimento. I do believe in the cause he had fought for all his life, for human rights and the Afro-Brazilians. So, unconditionally, Abdias do Nascimento is my Brazilian hero!

FRANCIS BACON PAR CARLOS FREIRE – This historic photographer exhibition in April was held in the historic Rue Jacob at the historic Galerie Dina Vierny, Paris. It comprised photographs of the historic and great painter Francis Bacon taken by the historic and great photographer Carlos Freire. It showed intense black and white photos of Francis Bacon in his historic, chaotic studio in South Kensington; also Bacon walking around Soho - London. One of his portraits is amazing showing Bacon with a semi-black face. Around me were the intelligentsia of France: Pierre Rosenberg ex Musee du Louvre, Jean-Lacques Aillagon ex Cultural Secretary of France, Regis Debray writer, J. B. Pontalis writer, Irene Fraim writer, Helene et Francois Mace de Lepirray Citte de Paris. And, of course, the Parisian Art Institution; as well as the legendary muse, model and custodian of the legacy of Aristide Maillot. – DINA VIERNY. She is the founder of the Musee Maillot-Foundation Dina Vierny. She donated 20 of Maillot sculptures to France on exhibition at the Jardin des Tuileries. The most important exhibition in Paris this spring featured Francis Bacon – Le Sacre et le Profane at the Musee Maillot – a huge success. People were queuing for hours in the street. I am a great admirer of Francis Bacon and his variation of the portrait of Pope Innocent X, originally by Velasquez. Dina Vierny completed the celebration of Bacon in Paris with Francis Bacon par Carlos Freire. The fabulous dinner with Dina Vierney left me giggling in disbelief. I underwent a personality change when I was shown my place at the table and found on my place-name that I was Vera' (with accent) and married to a gentleman called Pouccet (?). Vera' did have a memorable dinner. The Monsieurs around Vera' – including the husband for the evening – were all very amusing and even took Vera' back home escorted by their lovely Cavalier dog. Not before Dina had commented about Vera' colourful scarves and Vera' nearly fainted at receiving such a compliment from her! She also has one of the most charming, handsome, gorgeous men of France as a son. Gosh, what a glorious night!

ALEP- a fantastic book on photography by Carlos Freire with text by Adonis, a Syrian poet. ALEP- a photographic exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arab, Paris (05-010-04). If you can not go to Alep you should buy the Carlos Freire book and see why Francesca and I have left our hearts in Alep. This delightful photographer exhibition – book shows you via black and white photos this amazing city in Syria. So those were the two major photographic exhibitions in Paris by Carlos Freire. Both a huge success. I do not know of many photographers with two major exhibitions during the same year in Paris.

ALEPPO – is a 4,500 years old city in Syria with one of the most dusty and disorganised but interesting archaeological museum, with pieces from around the area that they have saved from flooding by the dam and many pieces from Mari, an archaeological excavation on the boarder with Iraq. Aleppo is also famous for the major souk and the hotel where Byron used to stay and, of course, we asked for his room when we were there.

EBLA – TELL MARDIKH – a Bronze Age city 54KM from Aleppo. Paolo Matthie of the University of Rome was the archaeologist who discovered Ebla in 1964 and found an archive that contains 15,000 tablets in cuneiform about the royal and public life of that period. It was one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Syrian territory and an exhibition featuring it was held in Rome. When Francesca did her University thesis at the Universita di Roma La Sapienza, the President of the examining commission was the Professor Paolo Matthie of Ebla. I asked Francesca if she had told Prof. Matthie that she had been in Ebla? She replied “Mother, you are so embarrassing!

LINO MICCICHE I was in Rome when Lino passed away. Lino was the first Italian I met in Rio de Janeiro at a Film Festival and he introduced me to Gianni Amico. Above all, Lino Micciche introduced the Latin American Cinema to Europe and was the founder of The Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema di Pesaro in 1965 which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary. Also he was for period President of the Biennale del Cinema di Venezia and President of the National Italian Syndicate of Film Critics. His importance in the Italian Cinema as a critic and historian was immeasurable. Lino has been forever a friend. When I called him he always called back, much to my surprise, and meant a lot to me, especially as he was a very busy and important person in the Italian Cinema. The last time I saw Lino we went to a movie, of course! I was telling him that my daughter would not forgive me because I ended my marriage to her father. And Lino said: “The wounds will heal, give her time”. His funeral was held at the University where he was a Professor of Cinema. All the great maestros of the Italian cinema were there paying tribute to Lino. Behind his coffin was a screen showing all his favourite films. Adriano Apra gave a speech on Lino's contribution to the Brazilian Cinema Novo and his support of the film director Glauber Rocha exiled in Rome. Bruno Torri who found with Lino the Pesaro Film Festival gave a moving speech and wrote a touching piece about Lino's contribution to the cinema. Bruno Torri told me later: “I lost my two best friends Gianni and Lino”. It was the same for me – two of my dearest friends gone! I left on Lino's coffin a vintage magazine called Cinema Novo. On the book of tribute I thanked him for what he did for the Brazilian Cinema Novo and for his unique friendship. Above all for his legacy of the books: Visconti, Pasolini, Neorealism, Italian Cinema in the 60s and 70s. Lino will live forever and for many generations in his film and in his books. Lino Micciche is irreplaceable!

VITTORIO DE SICA - 30 years since he has gone. He has influenced generations of filmmakers around the world. He got four Oscars for Sciuscia 1946, Ladri di Bicicleta 1948 my favourite, Ieri, Oggi e Domani 1963, Il Giardini dei Finzi Contini 1970. De Sica has direct 36 films and acted in 156. Italy celebrates de Sica with an award in his name.

EDUARDO DE FELIPPO – 20 years since his death – the sentence of Eduardo's that I quote often is “ha da passa a nuttata…” “Gli esami no finiscono mai…” I love Eduardo, I suppose, because Naples has an approach to life very similar to Brazilians and when I am depressed at nighttimes I always remember Eduardo's words of hope.

JOEL BARCELLOS - Celebrating 50 years of acting, directing and producing for cinema. On TV he is famous for playing the “bad guys” (everyone presses the button, hoping he will be killed) on Brazilians soap opera. He is also a stage actor. Congratulations! PEDRO – all the Brazilians are praying for you. You left a big “Headache” and the Brazilians are all really missing you and sending lots of love and hugs.

MR AND MRS TADEUSZ UJEJSKI – are taking great care of me – being very supportative and understanding whilst I am in London as I don't have a house here. I owe them a lot for helping me survive and making every thing easier. Every time I am unhappy Tadeusz manages to help me pull myself together. He is a really good man! I admire Tadeusz's sense of humour about his most amazing unbelievable history of how he survived as a kid during the Second World War: a fascinating painful experience from a first hand survivor. He says, as a kid, he had a great time! Most amazing was having dinner with his friend Katie that he nick-named Mimikoko. Tadeusz saved Mimikoko when she was a six years old in Budapest and she had written a book – from the point of view of a six years old – about her survival in Budapest during the war and is currently writing a book about her father, formerly an important publisher in Hungary and them a spy for the British Government.

On the 8 December 2004, around 22 hours, I crossed Montagu Square, London W1 and in my direction came a huge, wild orange fox screaming “I have just eaten Otis Ferry because he had invaded my territory. I did a service for the Nation and I want to keep my lifestyle in the middle of Mayfair”. I was petrified at seeing a fox, I went white as a sheet, and I said to The Cunning Little Vixen: “Jolly well done, darling!” In my life of extremes I had a great year and wish you all the same in 2005.

Verinha Ottoni


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