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A cello and an eight-millimeter camera: these were the choices that a teenaged Alberto Arvelo gave himself when deciding the direction his life would take. Ten films and over thirty international festival awards later, the camera has emerged victorious.
Born in Venezuela, Arvelo has developed a cinematographic body of work recognized for the profound social and human burden of his characters and by the visual power of his films. Two of his most emblematic works, One Life and Two Trails(1997) and A House with a View of the Sea (2001), form part of an exploration of the South American Andes. A House with a View of the Sea was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and received 18 international awards.
As a professor at the National School of Cinema in Mérida, Venezuela, Arvelo initiated an original film movement known as Cine Átomo, (Atom Cinema) focused on creating real opportunities for young Latin American directors. The concept stems from the idea of producing uncommon, reflective and humane movies with minimal and essential crew and production components. Based on a Cervantes short story, the first movie produced using the mechanics of this movement was Habana Havana (2004), directed by Arvelo. The film was given the Critic Awards at the Valladolid Film Festival as well as the Venezuelan National Film Award, among a dozen international recognitions. Arvelo’s Cyrano Fernández (2007), is an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand’s classic play. Arvelo’s film preserves the essence of the love triangle, depicting it in the complex and breathtaking environment of a slum in Caracas. Cyrano Fernández was premiered at the AFI Festival of Los Angeles.
Music is still very much a part of Arvelo’s life: in 2010, Arvelo directed the stage portion of the multimedia Cantata Criolla for the LA Phil festival American and Americas, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and starring Helen Hunt, Erich Wildpret and Édgar Ramírez. His documentary To Play and to Fight (2006), which premiered at the AFI Festival, dives into the lives of several children in the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra System. Empowered by renowned classical music figures such as Plácido Domingo, Claudio Abbado and Sir Simón Rattle, this documentary recounts the phenomenon of El Sistema around the world.
Most recently, Arvelo directed Libertador: The Liberator (2014), based on the life South American independence hero, Simón Bolívar, staring by Edgar Ramirez, María Valverde, Danny Huston, Iwan Roen, Imanol Arias and Gary Lewis. Libertador was premiered at Toronto Film Festival.