TIFF 2011: Toronto International Film Festival

Thursday | October 23, 2014

Javier Bardem's new doc inspires at TIFF


Javier Bardem during the Red Carpet for movie Sons of the Clouds at Ryerson Theatre in Toronto September 13, 2012. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

Javier Bardem says, "You cannot change the world," but he and filmmaker Alvaro Longoria might do just that with a new documentary.

Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony is a film narrated and produced by Bardem and directed by Longoria, and it brought them to TIFF yesterday.

The doc concerns the Western Sahara crisis and the political and social issues facing the Sarhawi people. Hundreds of thousands of Sarhawi live in tents in the desert; the Western Sahara was formerly a Spanish colony, but the area was grabbed by Morocco and is currently run like a police state. Morocco has actually built a wall across the desert, isolating the people and ignoring demands for an independence referendum.

Bardem, 43, got closer to the issue when he was invited to the FiSahara film festival in 2008. It's held in Dakhia, a refugee camp where the actor encountered Sahrawis and spoke to them about their plight.

Everyone in Spain is aware of the situation in the Western Sahara, says Bardem, "Because we've lived with it almost since the day I was born. But that film festival was my first personal encounter, and it was an amazing experience.You see these people being so generous and so aware of their situation, but with an amazing spirit of trust in a good destiny and fate, and when you see that, you need to do something. You need to help them make it go that way. They are one of a kind."

He pauses, then asks, "They are one of a kind -- you can say that? The plural can also be a one?" He laughs at his own struggles with English.

The actor recently described as the next "classic Bond villain" by director Sam Mendes has been on a roll since the Coen Brothers cast him as a villain in No Country For Old Men five years ago.

Bardem is acting royalty in his native Spain, youngest in a family that has been famous for generations, and he began to replicate that level of celebrity in North America with a role in Before Night Falls in 2000.

He built his reputation here with starring roles in The Dancer Upstairs, Collateral, The Sea Inside and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, among other films; Bardem will star in Terrence Malick's new movie, To The Wonder, and is super-villain Raoul Silva in the upcoming Bond film Skyfall. "As a kid, I saw many James Bond movies, so it's exciting to be part one of them."

Bardem and his wife, Penelope Cruz -- who is also in town to promote the film Twice Born -- are the parents of one son, Leo.

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca

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