BERLIN — Thesp Javier Bardem has played everything from a poet to a Mafioso, but his new role is a more radical departure. Bardem recently reactivated his long-dormant production label, Pinguin Films, to produce the multipart docu/fiction project “Invisibles.”
“Invisibles,” which revolves around stories behind five world humanitarian crises told by helmers including Wim Wenders, has its world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section.
Given Bardem’s enthusiasm, production probably will become a recurring role.
“Acting, you depend to a certain extent on yourself. A director directs your work in editing,” he says. “The marvelous thing about production is the teamwork.”
Bardem was born into a filmmaking dynasty. Uncle Juan Antonio Bardem, Spain’s most famous anti-Franco director, won a Cannes prize for “Death of a Cyclist” while in prison. His mother, Pilar Bardem, is an actress; cousin Miguel is a director.
A bohemian and activist, Bardem zhas been targeted for years by Spain’s right.
Normally he’d prefer to go unnoticed. But drawing attention to “Invisibles” will inevitably force him into the spotlight.
“It’s totally unjust, even blackly ironic, that so much is made of such unimportant things while things that should be more important are overlooked,” Bardem says.
The inspiration for the project was a yearly top 10 list of the world’s most under-reported humanitarian crises published by charitable org Medecins Sans Frontieres (aka Doctors Without Borders).
“I saw the best and worst of human beings: their suffering and people looking after other people,” he says. “I asked Medecins what I could do. They said, ‘Do something via your work.'”
The Democratic Republic of Congo, the setting for Wenders’ segment about sexual aggression, “Invisible Crimes,” has made the charts two years running. So have Colombia’s civilian displacements, addressed by Javier Corcuera’s segment.
Mariano Barroso’s “El sueno de Blanca” documents sleeping sickness in the Central African Republic, while Fernando Leon’s segment looks at Uganda’s child soldiers.
Latin America’s Chagas illness, portrayed in Isabel Coixet’s “Cartas a Nora,” affects 12 million people.
Bardem, producers Patricia de Muns, Luis Fernandez and Juan Aguirre at Reposado and the directors all worked for free. And sales agent Sogepaq isn’t worried about profits.
“The essential consideration will be the quality of distributors’ commitment,” says Sogepaq topper Simon de Santiago.