TIFF 2018. WAVELENGTHS: THE LABYRINTH BY LAURA HUERTAS MILLÁN

This entry was posted on September 17th, 2018

By Mónica Delgado

In The Labyrinth, Colombian filmmaker Laura Huertas Millán proposes a bifurcating road: the tale about the ascent and fall of a eccentric drug dealer in the middle of the Amazon jungle, something that little by little is left aside to give place to a local testimony that connects with the environment: the description of a trance and the encounter with the figures and gods that rule those lands.

The Labyrinth describes, though a voice over by Cristóbal Gómez, (an ex-helper of a powerful cartel between leafy tropical forests) how the life of luxury of drug dealer Evaristo Porras becomes a dissonant element of everything we observe in a natural, almost savage environment. Porras built a mansion copied directly from the Dinasty series, which not only irrupted in a scandalous way the amazon landscape, but also put in evidence his delirium of greatness and eccentricity, and always his admiration for this distant universe of the rich oilman in the heart of America, one of the most conservative territories in North America. And for that, Huertas Millán builds a montage which uses scenes of the series, but through panoramic fragments that revive them in the middle of the 21st century, while Gómez takes us with his tales to imagine the house in its activity. This disconnection with the new context that casts the television characters in the middle of the Colombian jungle is presented by Huertas as part of a fracture, as fruit of the dictatorship of time, as that description of Porras in its last days, alienated and impoverished.

Cristóbal Gómez’ voice, the person that makes us meet Porras, talks about his work as a worker inside the so called Amazonas Cartel through some anecdotes and memories, but also changes the intention of the tale, escaping from this imaginary of criminality for one more telluric, related to some communal and ancestral rituals . Gómez achieves to veer the narration inside the labyrinth proposed by the filmmaker, to recover the experience of healing, of that hallucinated trance which took him near death to find it beautiful (probably a product of an Ayahuasca trip).

As in her previous works, the ethnographic inquiry is materialized in The Labyrinth, winner of Best Director at Locarno, when Gómez’ voice imposes itself above the document that registers the mansion in ruins of Porras, and makes the camera stop, as that ending shot in a wood fire, as a proper environment for the ritual and the encounter with earth’s more intimate quality.

WAVELENGTHS 4: WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN
Director: Laura Huertas Millán
Cinematography: Laura Huertas Millán, Alexandra Sabathé
Colombia, France
21 mins
2018