CACHILO, THE POET OF THE WALLS
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Thank you so much for your submission of Cachilo. We would love to play it here this November. Shelaine, our programmer, can't stop talking about it and has it slotted in a prime evening time.(...)
Thanks again, and congratulations
Malcolm Parker / Print Traffic / Global Visions Festival
Cachilo is receiving a lot of excited responses- people are very much looking forward to the film and the press have been interested too. (...)
Global Visions Festival / Edmonton, Canada
Cachilo, poet of the walls
"He was a poet, annoying, disquieting... a poet from a prohibited place, a hidden, marginal place, a place non-recognized by the official culture."
In the city of Rosario, Argentina, in the mid 1980's, a homeless madman became the voice of a people. The country was governed by a military dictatorship and, safe in his lunacy, Cachilo wandered the streets filling blank wall with his poetry and drawings.
This freedom made him the envy of his fellow artists and gained him a notoriety and respect that would not have been possible in a less repressive political climate.
The documentary, filled with examples of his work and interviews with his countrymen, speaks more to the intense desire of freedom of speech and artistic expression that exists in humankind, than it does about the man himself . In fact, as I watched, I was mystified by the fact that this homeless beggar, inscribing random madness on the walls of a city, could have elicited such a positive response. Aren't these the people we chase away? Yet his words were carefully collected, songs were written about him, and f ilms made. He appears no different than any of the lost souls who wander the streets of large cities around the world, carrying their private universe with them.
What gave Cachilo the status that eludes his brothers? The answer lies in the surrounding cult ure. We take our freedoms for granted. We speak, we write, we sing, we draw whatever we choose and the poetry of the madman is lost in the din. It becomes valuable only when it is the one voice that can safely speak and be heard. Then it is counted on and revered as a symbol of freedom. As one man in the film says, "he had the freedom and lunacy we did not have."
Chalk up poet's lack of appeal to translation
Writings and paintings of Argentinian revered by city of Rosario, its artists
Cachilo shuffled up and down the streets of the city of Rosario, Argentina, in a coat greasy with dirt, and a cap battered nearly beyond description and held precariously on his head by a chinstrap.
A full, messy white beard matched a full, messy white head of hair. Clutched in his hands was a rainbow of various pieces of chalk with which Cachilo would write poetry on the walls of the downtown buildings.
The people of Rosario, or at least the artists who are interviewed here, celebrated Cachilo as a genius. His wall poetry has been gathered into a book honouring him, and his wall chalk paintings are regarded as works of major art.
I'm certainly willing to concede that Cachilo may have had some talent, but much of it, I fear, is lost in the transla tion. To know Cachilo may have been to love him, but this documentary fails to make it clear why he was embraced with such fervour by Rosario's intelligentsia.
However, I was struck by just how welcoming a place Rosario must be. Street people in other cities don't get the kind of consideration that made Cachilo's life relatively comfortable in Rosario.
And graffiti is invariably scrubbed away without regard to its merit. Apparently in Rosario they preserve this sort of thing.
Not that Cachilo, a onetime postal worker according to a friend of his, was always an easy fellow. He squabbled with restaurant owners who gave him free food and had the habit of urinating against the walls on which he planned to draw and write.
He believed that the urine would make his work more permanent and, frankly, who's to argue?
He was clearly successful at making some people question the conventions by which they lived, and much of it contained sharp observations of the world around him.
Some of it, of course, is merely odd.
"In Paris, babies are brought by the stork. In Rosario, by the turkey hen" has a smile contained somewhere in it, although I suspect Rosarians get the joke more than others.
Nothing, however, was free from comment: soccer player Maradona, growing old, the government, something he called the monster in the sewers. And some of the poems made no sense.
"Every student has to show her clean bathtub to her teacher", reads like a badly translated epigram from a fortune cookie.
Still, there's no denying Cachilo's impact, at least on Rosario.
There's a bar named after him, and his cryptic and enigmatic sayings are likely the stuff of academic parsing at Rosario U.
Furthermore, since his death in the early '90s, Cachilo has been posthumously named an "illustrious citizen" of his city.
Nevertheless, and maybe I'm wrong, I couldn't help but get the feeling that Cachilo is probably more honoured now than when he shambled down Rosario's main street, scribbling -- and dribbling -- as he went.
The Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Canada
November, 4th, 2000
Dear Mr. Piazza,
You are right, I did see your film at the Edmonton screening. (...) As for your film, as I mentioned in my previous e-mail, I thought it was beautiful. Of all of the films that I watched during the Global Visions Festival, your film had one of the highest attendances. (...) it definately peaked my interest in this poet and in Rosario. (...) The only difficulty I had in viewing Cachilo, el poeta de los muros, was that I had a hard time keeping up with the subtitles. They appeared very quickly sometimes and against white backgrounds, which made it difficult to read. Although I loved your film, I believe that I missed out on the full experience because I couldn't enjoy it in it's native language, Spanish.(...)
I look forward to hearing from you again.
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