By Ivonne Sheen
Two films about desire compete in the 2019 edition of Cinéma Du Réel. Both of them encompass the male desire, and coincidentally are directed by women: the feature A Wild Stream (2018, Mexico) by Nuria Ibañez Castañeda embarks us into the intimate relationship between two friends who seem to be only surrounded by the sea landscape of Baja California, Mexico; and the short Those who desire (2018, Spain) by Elena López Riera, who, with a poetical sense, portraits a metaphor of desire through an observational approach to colombicultura (training of birds) practice in her natal town of Orihuela, Spain. Both of them portray masculine desire from a silent and close observation of its masculine characters.
Nuria Ibañez Castañeda threads a narrative that easily erases the borders between documentary and fiction, focusing on the contained way the characters express their affections. These are two men who survive fishing and don’t do much, aside of being by the sea and having some drinks together. The beauty of the film resides in its intimacy, which reflects on their conversations and their solitary relationship with the landscape. In some point, the fictional way of portraying its characters arise, despite the natural openness of these characters. Drama begins to unfold, which reveals a deep tension between the two.
A nostalgic feeling encompasses the film; the two masculine characters share experiences together surrounded by the freedom and wilderness of the sea landscape, but keep quiet about this deeper connection between them, leaving us with a constant doubt regarding their closeness. Nevertheless, Ibañez achieves to express the characters’ feelings capturing delicate gestures of trust and distance. A deep tension of desire is resembled in the quietness of the film, and the only voices we hear are the ones of these men comforted by the companionship of each other. Is important to think that nowadays, to portray a homosexual attraction in a discreet way in Latin America, can be read as a critical metaphor of our societies’ ideologies, rather than self-censorship by the author.
The awarded Those who desire (Switzerland, Spain, 2018) follows the colombicultura activities in Orihuela with a delicate and incisive observation of the men who practice this competition with birds. Elena López Riera paints a colorful portrait that begins with a metaphorical observation of the mysterious but also basic mechanism of hegemonic, patriarchal, desire.
A group of men train a bird to compete with other birds, then all of them are introduced to a female, to then later force them into abstinence. The winner of the competition is the one who first reaches the female one. Part of the tradition of this game, is the painting of the bird’s wings with colorful artificial inks, which difference them. The paint then will give the birds an identity, related to their owners. This figure resembles the difference between an organic way of desiring (in which each animal has its own particular characteristic related to its species, that will let them procreate), and the painting of the wings, which becomes into a metaphor of human desire as one that is built by one self, influenced by its humanity, which is also projected to society as part of its coexistence.
Both films are examples of the complexity of desire regarding structural ideologies, in the micro cosmos of an intimate coexistence and of a more collective one. There is a common mystery, a quiet expression in both films, that share a deep feeling of containment.
A Wild Stream
Director: Nuria Ibañez Castañeda
Producer: Romy Tatiana Graullera
Those who desire
Director: Elena López Riera
Producer: David Epiney