ROTTERDAM 2018: LA ESTRELLA ERRANTE; SANTOS #2 WORK IN PROGRESS AND AZOUGUE NAZARÉ

This entry was posted on February 5th, 2018

La estrella errante (2017)

By Aldo Padilla

An axiom inside today’s cinema based in real characters, poses that to represent the entire life of a character in film is a script tool not solid at all, since portraying in two hours the whole course of a life is something that usually fails. Confronting this problem, biopics usually focus in portraying short periods of the protagonist, a year, a month or sometimes days, which also enters in common territory, but at least allows understanding a character in a determinate moment.

New rupturist ideas go beyond and look to portray a character through fiction episodes which represent the true work of the artist. A very well-known example is the particular characterization of Bob Dylan in I’m not there, where his figure materializes in little histories, characters and works that draw him in a more subtle way. And it’s possible to go even beyond with portraits of real characters, like Alberto Gracia does in La estrella errante, where he portrays Robert Perdut, former leader of the rock and Los Fiambres, straying away completely from the narrative realm, and where the only thing that seems to anchor the image to reality are extracts of an ambiguous television interview that is indefinition itself, evasive answers and silences that show the ideology of chaos that certain groups in Spain at the Eighties professed.

If the after mentioned interview is the only historical antecedent that is shown in the film, the rest of the footage are unconnected scenes between Robert, 30 years after this episode, who Is filmed with the excuse of a photo-shoot, and the constant search for a dog lost between sheds of a pier and an island in some place of the Cantabrian with the help of a photographer, who manages to conjure certain powers of tele-transportation by changing shirts. The rhythm of presentation of this lost and dependent character strays away from the first scene of the film where one can see the singer giving it all with Los Fiambres, something that reminds us of the epilogue of Aliens of Luis López Carrasco. The level of alienation increases with the movie, with the incursion of a mysterious character that apparently has killed someone, this being heard in a television story. His constant, disturbing gaze stops the camera and generates a constant threat that fascinates with small variations of gesture.

The representation of this character goes beyond itself and requires elements almost alien to cinema. With a 16-bit Mario that constantly interrupts the image and brings the fiction to glitch territory, Alberto Gracia transforms the biopic completely and turns the experience into a lysergic one, while a background song constantly repeats: drugs, drugs, drugs.

Santos #2, Work in Progress (2018)

Galician cinema was present two times in the festival, since Santos #2, Work in Progress by Anton Corbal was also presented, another film that is part of something that we could call the Laxe Cinematic Universe. If in 2015 Ben Rivers presented in Rotterdam the hybrid The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, today the crossing of making-of Mimosas and fiction that has as a lead character the filmmaker Oliver Laxe appears, a new hybrid on the process of construction of the short film Santos #2, and also the presentation of the short itself and an observational trip that goes between Morocco and Vilela.

The temporal jumps that characterize the film allows giving a new perspective on the complex and committed work by Laxe, a character and fascinating artist, whose spiritual process in Morocco stays with him on his day by day living in Spain.

It is remarkable a first part with great energy in the building of certain scenes, like the preparation of the fire which a woman uses to bake the characteristic bread of Arab countries, or the construction of a wall that will be teared apart as part of the short film, which allows us to understand that the camera never disturbed the process of creation, trying to portray Laxe and his creative team in the most natural way possible. If near the epilogue the process becomes repetitive and makes the film lose its rhythm, when the moment of presenting the short film arrives, this strong connection of the film with nature is shown, and it endorses the great work of editing by Corbal, cutting several hours to play the essential.

Azougue Nazaré (2018)

Music is also a protagonist in Azougue Nazaré, which reflects a preoccupation in Brazil in front of the evangelic radicalism, and for its incursion in politics. The film is not subtle at all in that idea, and almost all the film becomes excessive, but this excess is very akin with the tone of the film, which comes close to comedy and a conception of exoticism and magic realism so characteristic of the Brazilian northwest. The protagonist is played in this line: a wide man that enjoys with his alter ego created for the maracatu dance, which is an archetypical black woman who dances with impressive energy in the different presentation of the dance group. This energy is something that is characteristic of the film: in all moments in parties, sex, and the religious passion. The energy of Tiago Melo and his first feature is filmed with certain resources of fantasy through the apparition of some evangelic justice makers, which reminds us of Miguel Gomes’ Las mil y una noches characters, people who attack catholic and Spiritism leaders, in an environment of sugar canes, so characteristic of this area.

There’s a direct confrontation between the rapid growth of evangelical religion in Brazil and Latin America and the old traditions of people that look to be exterminated, posing them as weapons of the devil. Music is an important part in this struggle, since it represents the universal bond between the secular and religious world, reason why the radicals poses the unyielding passion as an element of sin, despite they both using the same relentless passion as a weapon of doctrine. Samba with a touch of improvisation is used in a sort of rap battle via WhatsApp. This scene defines in part the spirit of the film, a modern world trying to keep traditions and fighting against different enemies, in towns whose identity is defined by this type of rhythms.