Who is Moscoso?

Sherif Awad-Film Critic-Egypt

by Sherif Awad

Ecuadorian cinema had a long repertoire of short and feature-length films made throughout the 20th century. But most recently, Ecuadorian films that were realized by the new generation of talented filmmakers started to get the attention of curators and programmers of film festivals across the whole world. For instance, films like Qué tan lejos (2006) by Cuenca's Tania Hermida was highly acclaimed, receiving the Silver Zenith Award Montreal World Film Festival for the Best Directorial Debut.
This current rise of Ecuadorian cinema was due to the governmental approval of a new National Film Law in the year 2006. The law’s first implications appeared three years later with the establishing of the National Film Council of Ecuador (Cncine) whose main task was to grant funds to new projects by up-and-coming Ecuadorian filmmakers and also to promote Ecuadorian cinema worldwide. (Until now, Cncine has provided funds for 222 films varying between shorts, docs and narratives). If some observers consider the 700,000 USD provided by Cncine is limited, one should note that other entities like Ibermedia Corporation Fund and the Bilateral Corporation Strategies are completing the support by providing up to 7 Million Dollars a year to filmmakers in Ecuador.
Among the promising filmmakers whom I met in Quito, is the funny and talented Juan Rhon who is more of a multidisciplinary artist that your usual cineaste. In fact, it took him quite a while to discover what he would like to do with his own life on the professional and the personal level. In the beginning, Rhon tried a bit of everything; he first studied mathematics in polytechnic school but dropped out to try out visual arts in the catholic university of Quito. Few months later, he went to Norway as an exchange student but eventually returned to Colombia in order to study music and sound engineering. During these years, Rhon was always missing classes because he had a problem with authority and was rebellious against the system. It was his classmate Manuela Moscoso who studied in Saint Marks School in London and came to try one year in Quito University who helped Rhon to find his way when she invited him to her parents’ house and introduced him to her father Xavier Moscoso. “I and Manuela were both trying to work collectively on new visuals methods of storytelling in films when accidentally X. Moscoso was hearing us while he was washing the dishes”, remembers Juan. “Moscoso talked to me and he was like: you must go and shoot this stuff, man! He then disappeared for some minutes then showed up with his antique 8mm camera and gave it to me to get me starting”.
But Moscoso did not only give his amateurish camera to Juan but also helped him to conceptualize his thoughts into moving images. So while realizing his early short films including Hay cosas que no se dicen (2006), Rhon went to create light, sound and music shows as a DJ and music producer in a Salsathéque every Wednesday night in Quito. He also tried two-times to have his own discotheque in Quito but eventually his project was shut down due to his own bad management and the economic crisis of 2008. “I became more responsible when my girlfriend was pregnant and I became a father”, explains Juan. “One day, I was bathing my child only to imagine that he was blaming me for such an unstable life”.
 Juan’s reunion with X. Moscoso inspired him to make another documentary. This time, it was about his best friend and mentor.
 “In the beginning, I agreed to join him in Washington to shot a documentary about some jazz musicians who play in Westminster Church. But then, I started to follow him around with my camera, recording 440 hours. We traveled together from Washington, to New York, Tivoli, Woodstock, Quito and Hanoi over the course of two years”, says Juan who stated filming in November 2010 and finished in January 2012. His camera was continuously rolling to capture the story of Xavier Moscoso, known as “X” for his close friends. We get to know about his early years and how he arrived in the States back in 1964, the year The Beatles visited the US, as he described it. X also recounts how he met his lifetime partner Pilar during the protests against the Vietnam War and how he developed such black humor toward the surrounding reality. While running his hacienda that supported his family , X worked in a few Ecudorian and Colombian TV channels.
Juan Rhon’s Who’s X Moscoso? Became a 55 minute unconventional, unscripted documentary vivid with music and irony. Unfortunately, X left our world few months ago. But before that, he was able to see two cuts of the film before he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer that rapidly deteriorated  his health. “Two weeks before he died, he called me on Skype to express his gratitude”, says Juan. “I must say he was like co-directing this film with me because his energy was all around it”.
The final cut of Who’s X Moscoso? was screened in private gathering of some of Moscoso’s friends last August in Colombia. The official premiere will take place in the forthcoming Edoc Festival in Quito, due next May. “The film won a script fund from Cncine also I had already shot around 30%”, says Juan “I think they liked its concept because it shows how a good friendship can be the catalysis to understand life and to get over your daily problems”. After Edoc, Juan plans to unconventionally promote his film through screenings at touristic places in Quito then streamline it over the internet for one day before launching it on DVDs.

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