‘The unifying trait of all Tadeh’s projects is the fact that they make the audience think and to look deeper into the meaning of the philosophical and humanitarian questions posed by their creator.’ — Lianna Zakharian of YEREVAN magazine
‘Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ — Tadeh Daschi
‘I relate to her quest for truth and spirituality. At a young age, my story was similar to hers. She was interested in God and had these powers to see things. I had a lot of interest in God and why we’re here and questions that can’t be answered. But I wanted to search for it and find a meaning in life.’ — Carolena Sabah
‘I’m learning to combine two things, movement and stillness, joy and concentration.’ — Athena
‘I believe @keithpp explains better than my page “The Experimental Witch”.’ — Paulo Coelho on twitter 24 hours before Rome premier
The Witch of Portobello is a novel by Paulo Coelho. It is not like his earlier works, it is not like The Alchemist. For that reason many did not like it.
Maybe that was the intention, to jolt one out of ones complacency, to create a different reality as Athena does with her dance and music.
I could not get into The Witch of Portobello when I first tried, mainly because of this difference. I have since read it twice. I enjoyed it even more at the second reading.
The Witch of Portobello is a film based upon an idea by Paulo Coelho. Instead of handing over the film rights to a film company who completely mangle your work and what comes out the other end bears no resemblance to your original work which begs the question why they acquired the film rights in the first place, Paulo Coelho took a completely different approach. He invited via his blog, to each film the story from the perspective of one of the characters. Not as difficult as it sounds as each character has a different voice and we piece together the story of Athena from the perspective of these different characters. This was whittled down to a shortlist who were to produce the final feature length film.
The Witch of Portobello has its world premier at the Rome International Film Festival 9pm Tuesday 20 October 2009. But do not go rushing to the film festival because as I write, tickets were all sold out a couple of days ago.
As I write I have just received a copy of the first chapter. I thought it was the entire film, but Carolena Sabah who plays Athena has kindly corrected me, first chapter, Athena only, others have produced other characters, other chapters, to have its first international showing at the Rome premier.
The sound track with music by Visa is amazing! I am intrigued to see how the following characters capture the soul of the book as well as Carolena Sabah and her co-stars have done under the direction of Tadeh Daschi who also composed the haunting music performed by Visa. The haunting music by Visa blows your mind away. Soonest an album release.
Visa lead singer K’noup makes a cameo appearance in the The Witch of Portobello together with Soseh Keshishyan lead singer from the band Element whose vocals are on the film soundtrack.
Athena’s world is a world of ritual, trance, magic. I cannot now read The Witch of Portobello without the image of Athena portrayed by Carolena Sabah. Strange, when I read a novel I rarely have an image of any of the characters, and yet when I see them portrayed on screen they are not as I imagined. I did not have this problem with the portrayal of Athena.
It is rare for filmmakers to capture the essence of a book and yet Carolena Sabah and Tedeh Daschi have somehow managed that impossible feat.
The DVD needs a mini-documentary. Not the usual sugar-coated gush that makes the stomach churn. Five to ten minutes of Carolena Sabah and Tadeh Daschi explaining how the film came about, where it was filmed, with an introduction by Paulo Coelho. Maybe this can be added after the Rome premier, maybe with the address by Paulo Coelho, plus question and answer session with the audience.
Scribes had an important role in early Judaism, theirs was the task to copy out ancient scriptures. They had to be in the correct frame of mind. The same was true for illustrators of early Muslim texts. It does matter what you do, be it write a book, paint, draw, compose music or carve a piece of wood. Robert Pirsig captured the essence of this in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Only then do you cross the transition zone.
The Witch of Portobello, aka Athena, is on a spiritual quest, a quest for love, a quest for truth. But was the world ready for her revelations?
Two other Paulo Coelho novels have been turned into films: Veronika Decides to Die and The Alchemist.
The Winner Stands Alone, the latest novel by Paulo Coelho, is a damning indictment of the film and fashion industry and the cult of celebrity.
Mango has launched a second range of exclusive, Paulo Coelho limited edition solidarity t-shirts. Monies raised goes to support needy children at the Paulo Coelho Institute in Brazil.
Paulo Coelho was part of the Rio 2016 team in Copenhagen.
Tadeh Daschi is featured in YEREVAN magazine (Fall 2009), an English language quarterly Armenian magazine.
The 28-minute film by Carolena Sabah and Tedeh Daschi was first shown at the Arpa International Film Festival in Hollywood October 2008. The film festival was sponsored by the Arpa Foundation for Film Music and Art, Arpa is named after the river of the same name in Armenia. Founded in 1995, the foundation promotes the arts.
The 28-minute film cost $7,000 to produce, loose change to Hollywood.