No easy ride for Sam

An un­usual, award­win­ning western is front and cen­tre tonight as the Gold Coast Film Fes­ti­val en­ters its final days

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY GOLD COAST FILM FESTIVAL -

CTOR and play­wright Sam Shep­ard says he re­ceived a hos­tile wel­come from lo­cals in Po­tosi and Uyuni, in Bo­livia, while shoot­ing the western Black­thorn – be­cause they were ‘‘rife with su­per­sti­tions’’ about white vis­i­tors.

The Right Stuff and As­sas­i­na­tion of Jessie James by the coward Robert Ford star filmed the movie en­tirely on lo­ca­tion in Bo­livia and once he left the cap­i­tal city of La Paz, the cast and crew were met with much sus­pi­cion. He says is was be­cause lo­cals were not ac­cus­tomed to ‘‘see­ing white peo­ple’’.

‘‘Seventy per cent of the pop­u­la­tion is In­dian and rife with su­per­sti­tions,’’ he says.

‘‘In the moun­tains an In­dian lady ap­peared sud­denly from nowhere flail­ing her arms, shriek­ing loudly. I didn’t know what was hap­pen­ing but stopped in­stantly. They later ex­plained she be­lieves white faces are ghosts who will tear her belly out and eat her in­testines.

‘‘The cul­ture is dis­tinct. Packs of dogs be­hind barbed wire.

‘‘In one scene, I was try­ing to herd a llama, which is indige­nous to the area, and peo­ple were scream­ing. Their be­lief is the preg­nant an­i­mal, see­ing white peo­ple, would abort or de­liver a still­born baby . . .

‘‘Span­ish is not their first lan­guage . . . Trans­la­tors with us told us what was hap­pen­ing.’’

Shep­ard’s per­for­mance as the griz­zled out­law Butch Cas­sidy, now call­ing him­self James Black­thorn in the film, has been praised as one of his finest.

The ac­tor, who co-stars along­side Ed­uardo Nor­iega and Stephen Rea in the film, says the lo­cals weren’t the cast’s only ob­sta­cle in mak­ing the film – the coun­try’s to­pog­ra­phy and cli­mate proved to be a chal­lenge as well.

‘‘It was hard go­ing . . . Wasn’t easy work­ing at 1500 feet (457m), where the air is thin and (it’s) hard to breathe,’’ he say.

‘‘Our ho­tel rooms had tanks of air, and on lo­ca­tion aux­il­iary oxy­gen went around. We shot in places so re­mote that driv­ing to the lo­ca­tion took two hours.’’

screens at Australia Fair Cine­mas, South­port, tonight at 6.30pm as part of the Gold Coast Film Fes­ti­val, which con­tin­ues un­til Sun­day.

en­core, Page 27

Sam Shep­ard stars in Span­ish western

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