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‘Matador’ and ‘Dear Zachary’ Opening Soon

'Matador' and 'Dear Zachary' Opening Soon

Two SXSW 2008 documentary hits, The Matador and Dear Zachary, will begin a limited theatrical run starting October 31. City Lights acquired the former, and Oscilloscope/MSNBC acquired the latter. Both documentaries are different brands of emotional documentary experiences. These are tough films, for tough audiences. See them.

Here are the new, theatrical trailers, for both films:

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That is the most incredible comment I have ever seen on a blog. Watch the movie, it is great and shows both sides of the story.

Bill Buchanan

I commend the filmmakers for getting their film made and distributed. I haven’t seen it and therefore cannot comment on its cinematic attributes. I can only comment on the basis of Mr. Higgins’ and Ms. Seavey’s IDA interview responses, The Matador web site, my knowledge of bullfighting, having been to one and being acquainted with a Mexican person whose nephew is a matador based in Mexico City.

I’m hopeful The Matador reveals all of what goes on behind the scenes in this unpronounceably cruel, sadistic and cowardly–yes, especially cowardly–spectacle of gore and animal cruelty. The notion that some dork prancing around in a sequined, condom-tight ballet costume, taunting, tormenting and finally killing an animal has something to do with bravery is pure folly. What truly courageous person with a hint of compassion would take pleasure in torturing and stabbing to death a completely innocent animal instinctually fighting for its life, and that has been physically disabled prior to the fight. Recall the scene near the end of GLADIATOR in which the spineless emperor stabs Maximus prior to fighting him in the arena.

It is difficult to believe that even one matador has ever gotten into the ring with a dangerous animal without it first having a significant amount of its energy drained by being drugged,* or gotten anywhere near the animal until its neck muscles have been severed in numerous places by the lances of the picadors (the fat guys with spears on horseback). As an added treat to the cretins who attend these blood orgies, the horses–blindfolded–are often gored by the bulls as the fat guys stab away at the bull’s upper neck muscles. This crowd-pleasing procedure serves three purposes, all of which are aimed at protecting The Matador and enhancing his image: (1) the pain of it diminishes the animal’s fighting spirit, (2) weakens the neck muscles so the bull keeps his head down most of the time (that posture makes the matador’s ‘artistry’ look better), (3) Causes enormous blood loss, which weakens the animal and induces a sense of extreme thirst. The crowds go nuts when the blood spurts from those wounds and the animal’s tongue now hangs out from thirst and exhaustion.

Now the banderillos show their stuff by running up by the dazed bull sticking several 3-foot colorful sticks in the animal’s back. Those cute adornments feature 3 inch long barbed spikes that go into the bull’s back muscles. The bull is really looking festive now. Blood streaming down its shoulders from the lance wounds, tongue hanging out, gasping for breath. What a show! “Ole!”

Only now does the matador begin to wave his colorful cape in the animal’s face, daring the exhausted beast to charge him. All the matadors have their favorite, crowd-pleasing, death-defying maneuvers. El Fandi, star of The Matador, has his. He drops to his knees before the MALE animal, daring it, one assumes, to charge. Lucky for El Fandi the blatant symbolism of that posture goes right over the crowd’s machismo-crazed heads. In the Latin world, almost nothing is worse than being gay.

After waltzing around, waving his cape at this near bloodless, gasping animal, getting “Ole!” after “Ole!” for a bit longer, the matador struts over to an assistant to get his killing sword. Exactly when to do this is critically important. It would not please the crowd if the bull dropped to its knees or fell over from exhaustion/blood loss/thirst, unwilling and unable to fight any longer, before the matador could artistically stab it to death with his sword.

More often than not, the animal does not die quickly from his sword. Several ring attendants try to make the animal move around, so that the impaled blade will cut up the animal internally, causing more hemorrhaging and finally death. When the animal does fall over, a nasty little man with a knife sticks it in the back of the bull’s head intent on severing its spinal cord, thus putting the tortured animal out of its misery. What a noble gesture after subjecting this animal to such horrific cruelty. The irony is that this animal was the ONLY truly courageous being among those utterly despicable people in the ring and in the stands.

If the crowd (and the bullring’s president) believe the matador has done a super job tormenting and killing the animal, they will reward him with one or both of its ears and perhaps its tail, too, all of which are sliced off the dead or dying animal. The crowd goes really wild when that happens. The matador struts around the ring, holding up the ear(s) and/or tail, as the crowd jumps up and down screaming their approval. He and his entourage finally leave the ring to make way for the next bunch of glittering scumbags waiting in the wings. Now it’s time for refreshments as a little tractor appears and ignominiously drags the bull out of the ring. But, hey, the meat will go to the poor, so the whole thing was worthwhile after all! Plus, it’s a tradition, which makes it OK, too.

The Matador may be a well-made film and probably is. But I worry that it elevates Mr. Fandi and his ‘profession’ to a position deserving of respect. There can be no honor, nor an iota of respect nor any excuse for those who would treat animals with such unthinkable cruelty, causing such misery with total disregard for their rights as sentient beings.

What kind of person and/or culture sanctions, even applauds such behavior? How does one who tortures and kills animals for fun and profit go home and hug their kids or look an honorable person in the eye? What kind of society breeds and nurtures a person like Mr. Fandi; a person who aspires to be the world’s best at tormenting and killing animals whose only crime is the desire to live by fighting those who would deny them even that? I hope The Matador addresses those and other questions unflinchingly, but I’m afraid it doesn’t. I’m also afraid that it attempts to defend the indefensible by focusing the story on one man’s quest to be the best at something. I hope the film does not ignore the indisputable fact that what Mr. Fandi wants to be best at is monumentally contemptible. I’m convinced that matadors and the sick-minded, wild-eyed people that cheer them on were the kind of children who stuck firecrackers in kittens’ asses.

Bullfighting should have joined all the other tradition-based, aboriginal bloodlust activities in the stinking vaults of sub-human history a long time ago, and most people who don’t eat with their fingers and have some sense of compassion for all non-human life know it. Fortunately bullfighting is on the decline in Mexico and perhaps in Spain and elsewhere. I believe it will eventually be banned as more and more people are sickened by the godawful bloody brutality of it. I’m certain former matadors and all the others once involved in this blood bath can find honorable jobs that will gratify their special needs, provide comparable prestige and require just as much courage. Working in the kill room in slaughterhouses comes to mind.

* The bulls are injected with a tranquilizer that helps reduce the terror of being thrust suddenly into the ring and to hinder their ability to jump over the wall and into the stands. It also makes certain the matador and the other bad actors in the ring are not immediately gored and/or trampled. That said, it would make for a delightful, there-is-a-God scene to see one of those bulls gore and stomp the hell out of the matador and his cohorts, and then jump into the stands and mingle with the crowd a bit. Another on my wish list of things I’d like to see at a bullfight would be the bull trotting triumphantly ‘round and ‘round the ring with about 25 feet of the matador’s intestines dangling from its horns. Wonder if he’d awarded one or both of the matador’s ears, or more appropriately, one or both of his testicles?

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