Lettera #25 Para Clara


Clara Jost, at the 2017 Berlinale

Dear Clara,

I had seen a week or so ago, that your mother would be showing her newest film in Berlin.  I wondered if you would be going with her, and then saw you were in the cast.   Yesterday I saw some reviews – which wandered as usual from saying “very good (if slow),” to saying “slow and boring and saying nothing.”   Etc.   Life in the film world, or arts world – or perhaps any world.  Today I Googled for pictures – of you, of the film – and found them.

I haven’t seen you now for fifteen and a half years.  For quite some time I had not even a picture to see – so completely had your mother blocked you off from the world.  Then you had your Facebook, which let me see, for the first time in many years, an image of you.  Curiously, when I Googled for pictures, on the same page was this one:


Back then, as you know, I “friended” you and that Facebook page promptly went off-line, I presume courtesy of Teresa.  On the same Google page, along with the shots of you from the press at the Berlinale, was this image:



From Piccoli Miracoli (in progress)

The feelings I have, when I see these images – images of my own daughter, whom I raised virtually alone for 3 and a half years, and have been unable to see now for all these long years now – are deep and deeply wounding.  It is a pain, though subdued by the passage of time, never to be healed.  I am sure, in some way, it is the same for you, though with a considerable difference.  I am now an older man, psychologically prepared to die.  Many of my friends and collaborators have already gone, and at this juncture – soon to be 74 – it is wise to settle the scores of one’s life, to make an accounting and make peace with it.  I have.  You, instead, are a young woman, psychologically, like all young people, not really ready for what lies before you in what we hope is a long life, and in your case having to cope with a deep rupture inflicted upon you, by your mother, in your early childhood.  I doubt as the scars, whatever they are, will ever leave you.  I only hope you are able surmount them, and live a healthy and happy life despite them – a life enriched with love.

You are in Berlin now and I hope you are having a good time, never mind the shallow circus which is the film world.  I lived in Berlin a handful of years, on and off, and have many friends there.  It’s one of my favorite cities.  Your mother came to visit me there – described in an earlier letter to you – long ago.  I was once, long ago, a sort of festival favorite (not in Competition, but in the Forum section), since 1977 and have been there with 8 different films over the years.  Though that was some time ago as – fickle as the arts world is – I seem to have fallen out of favor there, though in my view, and that of some others, my work is better than back then.  I hope to return sometime soon to see friends, and perhaps to show newer work.

Actress Clara Jost attends the Colo photocall during the 67th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 15, 2017 in Berlin, Germany (Coolmedia) (Photo by COOLMedia/NurPhoto)

As I said in a previous letter, I will be posting a series of letters, written before your mother’s kidnapping of you on Nov 1, 2000, and then others written after.  These are many and long, so I will do one or two at a time in my coming letters.  I will start below.

Marcella and I will be going in a few days to Torino, for screenings of 5 films there at the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, and then to visit friends in Milano – including Tilde, who was in my first film, Portrait (1963), which will show in Torino.  She and her husband will be coming for that!  A treat for me.


Tilde Rebosio, in Portrait, 1963



I must start getting things ready for our trip – files of the films, tickets, clothes – so I’ll stop now.

I hope your time in Berlin was happy and full, and that on return to Lisboa you are able to get back to work – I see you are at the school for film and theater, and making short films with your colleagues.  I am glad you are able to do what you want to do and I trust you are good at it.


Teu pai,  jon



Subject: Before going to Norway
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 09:40:41 +0200
From: Villaverde and Jost <laragreen@netscape.net>
To: tverde@clix.pt
Dear Teresa,

We leave in a few hours and will be back Monday afternoon. A few practical things first:

The Deutsche Bank account is probably almost empty – the last end of Sept accounting posted says there were 2.5 millioni left, and the rent taken out will drop it to almost nothing. This is more or less right on schedule. I am expecting a deposit from payment for my Rotterdam piece of 7 millioni, but it appears it hasn’t arrived yet. So can you please transfer whatever you wish, but at least a few millioni, from Lisboa. Do so immediately.

I think I got the bills paid, though maybe I missed one month (too late)on the electricity, but I guess they will let us know.

As I spent more or less the whole summer and autumn in Portugal, at your request, I ask you to make sure the following is done for me:

Have someone go to your mother’s house and in the storage room (not the basement one, unless they moved things, but the ex-bedroom of Manel’s) and get all the Digital Beta tapes they can find (there are ones of 40 and 60 minutes length, in boxes), and make sure they are all brought here when the production comes to Rome. If someone could go into the back of the under-the-stairway room and find the large oil painting thing I would like that too, but I think it would require emptying out the whole thing which I suppose no one would want to do. Likewise my tripod in Cabanas should come. I will contact the office to ask them to arrange that someone go get the tapes when traveling between Lisboa and Cabanas, but they will need you to organize with your mother letting in, etc.

I am going to tell Alessandro that Clara will not be available for the last scene until (a) the refund on the tickets has been made, and (b) her contract and payment has been made. I will send him the necessary information to do these things.

On your return I would appreciate it if you have the production secure you a hotel (Nuno can do so, or I can reserve a place). The apartment is now almost neat and tidy and I wish to keep it that way; I know you well enough to know that if you stay here even briefly it will promptly become a mess. Thank you, but no. Manuela says there is a nice one room apartment which the school has which may be empty when you return and you could get it. I will go see when I get back from Norway. It costs 1.6 millioni (though it will drop to 1.3 over time, too complicated to explain why here). It is on via della Scala, so quite nearby. If you think you will want it let me know and I will check it out and see when it is available. I doubt that you are going to find a “cheap” apartment in Trastevere. Maybe Testaccio or Monte Verde, but not around here. (Speaking of which, Tonino found himself a house and is buying it, somewhere out further from San Lorenzo side of town.)

Everyone I know here already has been informed that we are no longer living together, and why. Likewise my family. Given the overall situation it seems clear Clara should stay here with me. She likes her room and the house (she says so often), Lolly is down the street, etc., and she likes to be with me. I am happy to give all the time she needs and deserves, as I have the last years. As time goes on we will each have to each make compromises regarding work, where we live, and such things, to minimize the damage inflicted on Clara.

Regarding your let’s-make-it-like-fun-to-have-two apartments, i.e., be deceptive and dishonest with Clara, thank you, but I decline. It is your typical manipulative way of doing things but it antithetical to my sense of ethics. I lived in a family which did such things, and had a first hand view of it. I have observed also your family which also manages things in that way, and I can’t say I find it a pleasant sight. I think such things are far more damaging in the long run (look at yourself, for example) than being honest in the here and now present. Such deceits as you are proposing take two to tango, and you, Teresa, are by yourself on this one. She will in a gentle manner know the truth, plain and simple. It will be better for her in the long run; doing what you propose will merely lead her in the future to distrust you (which given your customary way of doing things, perhaps she should.)

On an immediate practical level I will be going to Madrid for three screenings leaving on November 1 or 2 (probably the latter) and returning on the 5th. I will be going to the ZKM on Nov 20 or 21 through Nov 29, back on the 30th. Sometime in December I will go briefly to Merano to work on the installation, and I will go to the ZKM again over the Christmas period for another week. Unsure on the dates. I can and am happy to take Clara for any of these periods, though I think it is better she go to school.

Anyway I must get packed. I will spare you my thoughts on your actions, except to say they are no surprise at all, and in fact were utterly predictable and telegraphed long ago.

I hope your shooting is going well. Please email me the telephone and fax number, and email of the production office as I failed to bring the papers with them listed and I need to contact them regarding Clara’s contract, refunds, and getting the Digital Beta tapes. So please send this information, take care of the bank thing, etc. I will send the telephone number or whatever in Bergen after I know it.




The view from our balcony in Ragusa

Amo-te, Clarinha !


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