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The Latino behind Lakino

INTERVIEW. On Sunday, Kino Babylon and Volksbühne open their doors to Berlin's growing Latin American film festival. Peruvian Martin Capatinta, the festival's director, talks rainforests, coincidences, and funding Lakino out of his pocket. Oct 5-12.

Image for The Latino behind Lakino
Photo by Anna Agliardi

Martin Capatinta is the man behind Lakino, Berlin’s bi-annual Latin American film festival running October 5-12 at Volksbühne and Babylon Mitte. Twelve years ago, a series of coincidences brought him from his native Lima, Peru to Germany. His cosy, sparsely furnished Prenzlauer Berg studio brings a kind of calm to his flurry of energy and spontaneity.

What brought you to Germany?

I initially wanted to go to Spain, but they denied my visa. This changed my life completely because I went to the rainforest and met these two guys from Baden-Württemberg there in a lodge. They didn’t understand all these visa things, all these walls and I said, “It’s normal for us.” They said “What?” and after that, of course, they sent me an invitation to work with them. I always say, “Thanks, Spain, for denying my visa.” Otherwise, I would be there. I was first in the south [Stuttgart], then I got a job with a theatre company in Munich, but I got tired of it, I needed a city that really moved something in me. Ten years ago, Berlin was the city. I needed that.

That was the beginning of Lakino.

I wanted to make something in Berlin and there wasn’t a Latin American film festival, so I called the Babylon, the cinema, and I said, “I would like to start a festival” and they said “We like it, come over.” I came and they said, “Here are the dates,” and I said, “Okay, I’ll take it.” I paid. Then, I went back to my office and I said to a friend, “Okay, I have this problem. I have no films. I’ve never organised a festival before.” It was the 9th of November and the festival was in August.

You had the dates and the theatre, but no films. What was next?

I called my friend who organised a short film festival in Brest, in the north of France, and I asked him if he would help me. He said yes, so I said “Okay, let’s prepare the website.” Then we had the website and the only thing it said was “Latin American Film Festival”, but once it was online, people began to write us. We opened the call for short films and soon we had a thousand. From the beginning [of Lakino], it was quite good. I had some debt, but it was okay because I had calculated that. So I said, “Okay, I want to do another one and another one and another one.”

Lakino was a short film festival from the beginning. Why did you make the move to feature films?

I still kept the short film festival, but it was something I was getting tired of. Short films are not so easy to sell to the audience because they are very specialised, they’re for people who really love them. So the plan for this year [2014], to have the first [feature] film festival, but last year I decided: No, I don’t want to wait. So I didn’t.

Lakino has been running for four years now. Do you get any sponsoring from anyone?

No. It’s still with my money. I have my other job – I am part owner of a company in Spain [Emotique], where I produce commercial events. But I’m leaving slowly and trying to just work as a freelancer for them. There’s always a kind of money in that which gives me a stability. Of course I could buy a new car, maybe even a very good one with my job. But I prefer to invest in the festival. Instead of having a good car, I have a film festival.

Was that a dream of yours?

I accidentally found theatre in Lima when I was 16 and I was entranced. It was a kind of Körpertheater, dance/body theatre, and I said “Wow”, maybe this is the kind of thing I want to do. And then I tried it and I couldn’t stop, even now. For the rest of my childhood, I tried to just avoid school in some way. I didn’t want to do what my mama wanted me to do, to be a huge businessman. Of course not. When I discovered that I liked dance and movement, I went to ballet classes, for free – they needed men, so we didn’t have to pay. Then I went to Colombia to look for a theatre company that I liked. I knocked on their door and I said “I want to work with you because you are the best.” I began cleaning their floors. I was so excited in my twenties, learning as much as I could. I was there one year and then I came back again and then I came back again. And then I went to Mexico to do the same thing. After that, I directed my own theatre company in my country, Peru.

Are you still doing theatre – on top of your job and the festival?

Yes. And I’m still exploring the camera, sounds, mixing things together, telling some kind of stories. After so many years being in Peru, I had a very political voice. When I came here, I didn’t know how to talk because I had everything. There was nothing to fight against. I was silenced for five or six years until I began to understand myself in this country.

But one day, you might wake up and decide to leave.

Well, I won’t let myself move away anymore because I wouldn’t come back. This country adopted me. I have Lakino and I have two daughters here, I have family, I have set up my life. I have made my plans for the next five years. It’s going slowly, but I think we have to look for funds now because otherwise, the debt is getting big. I recently told someone in publishing about my private funding and she said to me “You must be a crazy man…” For me it’s normal to produce and produce and produce, doing 20 things at a time. But I asked my girlfriend, “Am I crazy?” and she said “Yeah, Martin, you are crazy.”

LAKINO FESTIVAL Oct 5-14 | Kino Babylon, Rosa-Luxemburg- Str. 30, Mitte, U-Bhf Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz