The name of César Charlone may not mean anything to many. It tells me a lot because this cinematographer, born in Uruguay but whose career has developed in Brazil, taught at the school where I studied film, EICTV.

But it is also possible that the name is much more familiar to you due to another circumstance: he was in charge of the film look for Cidade de Deus —for which he was nominated for an Oscar— and The Constant Gardener, both films by Brazilian Fernando Meirelles.

Charlone, on the one hand, has just finished Blindness, by Meirelles, the film adaptation of the Essay on Blindness by the Portuguese José Saramago and, on the other hand, has just released his first film as director (or co-director, well, another director Enrique Fernández , has participated in its realization), The Pope’s Bath (in the photo). In this sense, BBC Mundo has published a long and informative interview with Charlone, which should not be missed by anyone who is interested in cinematographic direction.

About her work with Meirelles on ‘Blindness’, Charlone says:

The film is based on Saramago’s novel, which describes that allegorical blindness that he counts as “white blindness”, literally saying “a sea of ​​milk”. So it was very easy to take a photograph that looked like a “sea of ​​milk”, very white, very bright, where all the light and the entire image are constantly drawing attention to itself so that the viewer becomes aware of the importance of looking. , of observing, of being aware of what he sees.

When asked about how that kind of light is created, Charlone replies:

Conceptually, it is quite intense table work with the director and with the art director or production designer, another character in charge of making all the scenery and working on the costumes and colors so that they are coordinated with the photographer, because it is useless. that the photographer intends to take a very clear photograph if all the costumes and all the scenery are very black.

His concept of the work of a cinematographer is also interesting:

A cinematographer helps the director tell his story. The director has a story, he has actors, a script and he is very clear about how he wants to do it or he is not so clear about it. So we go to that limit. There is a friend of photography director, who says “we photographers are like prostitutes, we satisfy the client”. I think it is a very fair allegory because it has a lot to do with it. If the director is very clear, he has to put the camera, the lights and film. If the director is not so clear about it, we search and search until we satisfy his desire.

El baño del Papa, a film in which Charlone acts as director and cinematographer at the same time, takes place in a small Uruguayan city on the border with Brazil, which was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1988. Beto, a smuggler, sees in the visit a unique opportunity to make money. A lot of money. His idea is to set up “the Pope’s bathroom”, which must be used by the thousands of pilgrims who will come to the city for the visit of his Holiness.

The film is among the ten finalists at the Mostra Internacional de Cinema de São Paulo.