Interview with Cinephile Carlos Rui Ribeiro

Anyone who knows me knows about my great passion for the seventh art. One of the people that I know that has such passion is my good friend Carlos Rui Ribeiro, someone whom I can even call a mentor, with whom I like to debate movies and also themes of life and societies these days. Carlos Rui Ribeiro is a cinephile that I’m honoured to call my friend and he is also my first patron!

Carlos Rui Ribeiro has a long story with cinema, he is the Founder of Moobi – a cine club for people who love this art – and he is one of the organisers of Porto Surf Film Festival; as well as other cinematographic events. Today I bring you this inspiring interview about the role that cinema has in a cinephile’s life, about the role of cinema in the wellbeing of each person (cinetherapy) and about the way life and cinema touch each other. I am certain that this interview will inspire you as much as it inspired me!

1 – When did this love for cinema started?

The passion for cinema started very early, it’s there already in my first memories. My first five years were spent in France and my parents had a camera and also a home projection machine using 8 mm Super8 film. Some of my oldest memories are Super8 screenings at home. And those screenings included home movies but also some short movies that we could buy in Super8 film reels. In one of those reels I found my first movie passion: The Vagabond, by Charlie Chaplin.

After that, already in Portugal, that passion grew with the first visits to a movie theatre. The Disney film, Fantasia, was probably not the first film I watched in a theatre but it’s the first I remember clearly. It had a great impact on me and is still today my favourite animated movie.

And the passion just continued to grow along the years, with the films that I could watch on the local TV station (RTP), the first VCRs, many visits to movie theatres, cinema clubs, film festivals, the internet and the easy access to its gigantic archive that includes all the film history.

It all started with those Super8 home screenings when I was a child, but cinema has given me many reasons to just love it more and more over the years.

2 – What fascinates you in the movies?

I think the most important feature is being a kind of fusion between photography, music and literature. That blend between image, sound and text/narrative (although there are great films without one or more of those elements) make it a mean of communication and a form of art particularly stimulating. Several of our senses are stimulated at once and we are challenged emotionally but also intellectually. It’s a truly complete and enlightening experience.

3 – How did cinema changed or impacts your life?

Cinema has been with me since my earliest days. So, more than changing, I think it shaped my life in some way. I can’t think of my life without thinking in cinema.

It has been a company when I’m lonely, a way of relaxing in moments of tension, a very important learning tool for lots of different subjects, a way of intellectual stimulation, a call for action when some important decisions have to be made, a way of travelling without moving, of diving into different realities and other lives and coming back to my own with a different perspective. It has allowed me to meet new people, make new friends. And to keep and improve existing friendships. It’s an important way of sharing and showing affection. It’s a social experience, a way of becoming part of the society. It allows us to discover new authors, music, books, ideas, that then become important in our lives outside the movie world.

It can be almost anything we want, depending on the way we use it and the way we allow ourselves to go deep in our relation with it.

4 – Now a very tough question for any movie lover: can you share with us some of your favourite movies and why do you love them?

It’s really a very tough question. Although it’s always a pleasure to talk about our favourite movies, it’s very hard to choose only a few and leave so many that are also very important. But, accepting the challenge, here it is a possible list of 10 movies, with some very short comments.

2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick (1968). The film that is ahead of its time for at least 50 years.

Hannah and Her Sisters, Woody Allen (1986). The movie that answers the eternal question about the meaning of life.

Blade Runner, Ridley Scott (1982). Vangelis’ soundtrack, that didn’t get lost in time like tears in rain.

In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-Wai (2000). Maggie Cheung, crossing the streets of Hong Kong, in slow motion, with Shigeru Umebayashi’s enchanting music.

Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola (2003). Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson looking at each other while he sings “more than this, you know there’s nothing”.

The Big Lebowski, Joel & Ethan Coen (1998). The movie that inspired a new lifestyle, dudeism!

The Secret in Their Eyes, Juan José Campanella (2009). The film that explains us that we can turn our backs to everything except our passions.

Persona, Ingmar Bergman (1966). Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann’s faces almost tearing the screen.

Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino (1994). An explosion of cinema that blasted me in 1995, in one of the great moments of renewal of my passion for films.

Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock (1958). San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and a story we can’t get out of.

5 – How do you think watching a movie or going to the movies can improve people’s lives?

When I spoke about the importance of cinema in my life in some way I was already answering this question.

Watching a movie can be an extremely rewarding experience, emotionally and intellectually. It can help us experimenting and maturing emotions, have fun, relax, help to make decisions, and it’s an endless source of learning.

Going to the movies allows us to experiment films in a more complete and profound way than in our homes. It’s a social experience that strengthens our connection with other people. With the ones that we already know and that go with us, and the ones we don’t know and will find in the theatre. And besides that it allows a deeper dive in the film, and an even bigger stimulation of our senses.

6 – Do you think cinema can be used as a therapy? How?

I’ve been feeling that therapeutic effect myself, in several moments of my life. So yes, I think cinema can be also that.

Many times I experienced entering a movie theatre feeling one way and leaving it feeling completely different. The way a film allows us to leave our lives and our problems for 2 hours, travel to a different world, be someone else, and then get back, can have a very powerful effect. It’s like sleeping and dreaming for 2 hours and waking up refreshed. It can relax us, remove negative thoughts, organize our ideas, help to take decisions.

The movie we choose obviously can influence our mood. But, whatever the movie, entering a movie theatre and diving in a different reality can have a powerful therapeutic effect.

7 – With the growth of television, cinema lost some space. How do you think this is going to evolve in the future? Do you think going to the movies will disappear or people will always look for the magic of the big screen?

When television first appeared cinema was able to give a very good response, through technological innovations. It has been more complicated to fight the growth of internet and the easy access to movies at our homes, the growth of videogames, youtube, and the recent interest in tv series. And also the decreasing attention span that has been making increasingly difficult for people to concentrate 2 hours in the same activity.

I think some people will continue to have a great interest for cinema and for seeing it in a theatre, on the big screen. Maybe not as many as in the past, maybe cinema will never have the leading position in entertainment that once had, because of the competition of so many alternatives.

But I believe cinema will not disappear. It may suffer new important changes, as the ones that occurred in the past with the introduction of sound and colour, and computer generated images. But I think it will last. The number of persons interested in cinema may be lower but the ones who are passionate are the luckiest movie lovers ever. They have ways of accessing movies more easily than ever before. As a form of art and culture it can become stronger than ever.

8 – What last thoughts do you want to share with the readers at Skin at Heart?

I must thank the invitation for this interview that was a great pleasure. And ask, or suggest, that all of you try (or continue to try) going to a movie theatre, shut down completely from the outside world, and dive deeply into a film. There is nothing like it!

Skin at Heart thanks Carlos for this inspiring interview that makes any person who loves cinema smile!

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