CINEMA DU REEL 2018: LAS FUERZAS, BY PAOLA BUONTEMPO AND OPTIMISM DE DEBORAH STRATMAN

This entry was posted on March 28th, 2018

Las Fuerzas

This beautiful documentary follows two young jockeys about to graduate from the apprenticeship school of the La Plata racetrack in Argentina. Horse anatomy lessons, general training, exercises at the gym, interviews, their first race, among others, are the acts chosen by Buontempo to observe them carefully and in detail. Through the succession of these situations, the filmmaker shows a community, a lifestyle, and a tradition that goes through the history of La Plata.

Las fuerzas is a film very closely related to Manuel Abramovich’s cinema, especially to his film Soldier. Both films are interested in showing a process of learning over time, with the difference that Buontempo’s film is more the portrait of the process than the portrait of a specific character. In Abramovich’s films, like Soldier or Light Years, there is a great interest in trying to “capture”, though images, what the characters are thinking, when they are alone, when they watch the monitor while shooting a film, when they make music. While both share the pleasure of filming beautiful, panoramic and geometric wide shots, in Las fuerzas one feels a stronger pleasure in capturing brief glimpses of beauty, like when one of the jockeys touches the Virgin Mary statue just before the race. Between the routines, occasionally, one can glimpse the unexpected.

Optimism

By Nicolás Carrasco

From the remote territory of Dawson City, in the Canadian Yukon, Deborah Stratman reminds us of a past that remains frozen in the winter cold. Strongly related to Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time, Stratman’s portrait of this town is not chronological or about film archeology; her main interest is in the study of spaces. Cancan dancers, curling players, smelters of minerals, and a curious disc on the edge of a mountain congregate to form a portrait of the city.

At the beginning of the film we hear the voice over of one of the city officials telling his plans to build a giant mirror that will reflect sunlight downtown and thus combat the lack of vitamin D among residents. When asked if vitamin D gets affected after being bounced, he answers: “We don’t know that, but we’re not too worried. This is about optimism.” What is that “optimism” he is referring to? Stratman draws a timeline of these pharaonic projects that have persisted throughout the history of Dawson City, from the gold rush at the end of the 19th century (a explicit reference brought by the use of music from Chaplin’s film) to the urge to relieve the valley of a permanent shadow. This relationship in time is expressed in a wonderful cut between two shots: from the round mirror reflecting the sun to a shot of a gold brick. Optimism is a reminder of a long history of desire and fortune seeking that is convoluted with perpetual repetition.

Las Fuerzas
Directing, script: Paola Buontempo
Cinematography: Franco Palazzo y Luis Migliavacca
Editing:Marcos Migliavacca y José María Avilés

Optimism
Directing, script: Deborah Stratman
Cinematography: Deborah Stratman
Editing: Deborah Stratman
Music: Charlie Chaplin
Sound: Deborah Stratman, Steve Badgett