By Pablo Gamba

Fausto got this year one of the two special mentions of the jury in the Cineasti del Presente at Locarno Film Festival. This is the second feature of Andrea Bussman and the first one she directs alone. In her previous film, Tales of two who dreamt (2016), she shared director duties with Nicolás Pereda, her husband.

As in her last film, Bussman works the relation between fiction stories and the chracters of a place in Fausto. If in Tales of two who dreamt she dealt with Hungary gypsies inhabiting a Toronto housing complex while waiting for the tribunals to decide on their asylum requests, the location here is an Oaxacan beach, with people that might be from there but also foreigners.

An important novelty on this film in respect to the last one lies on the relations between the voice over and the images. In Tales of two who dreamt there was a parallelism between the Kafkaesque story of a kid turned into a bird and what’s visible on the film, since the character appears in different shots to destabilize what in any other way could’ve seen like an observational documentary. Here, the reference of what’s being narrated becomes more problematic, for example, some characters seen from a long distance, which could be the ones the narration is talking about, but then again, they might not be. In one of the interviews dubbing is used, something which allows one to hear the original voice in the background, something very characteristic of documentary, which makes one doubt about what other interviewees say in three different languages, without being dubbed.

The decoupling of sound and image is what’s more striking of this film. It allows the stories to deploy freely, with this weak visual correlation, and multiply, without any other apparent link that the ambiance. But even the representation of the space loses its continuity in the film.

As the title suggests –a title which is also the name of a character of one of the stories of the film- fabulation seems to aspire to extend itself infinitely, potentially even beyond recent films inspired in the Sherezade myth, such as Miguel Gómez’s As mil e uma noites (2015) or Mariano Llinás’ La Flor (2018) that was also in Locarno. The frugal production required by the fictional tale in this two films of low budget is even more reduced in the Bussman film, and while the first one lasts over six hours and the second one fourteen, the tales in Faust are told in seventy minutes.

But this is achieved at the cost of a lowered tension compared to the one between fantasy and the real in the previous film by Bussman and Pereda. The Kafkaesque tale of Tales of two who dreamt was set in relation to the preparation for the judicial process: the immigrants lie in order to look like more plausible candidates for asylum. In Fausto’s location, in contrast, this element just seems to create some social dissonance with the paradisiac ambiance; this tendency of expanding “the establishment” may well be a very vague metaphor of colonization and capitalism.

If maybe other characteristic of the tales in the film is that they could be inscribed in the literary movement of the “real maravilloso” (magical realism), the relation with the story doesn’t have the same weight that other literary works of that movement, like Alejo Carpentier’s El Reino de este mundo (1949) or Manuel Scorza’s La Guerra silenciosa (1970-1979). The same could be said in relation with the anchor of As mil e uma noites in the difficulties that today’s Europe faces. Fausto’s director, distances herself from those topics –if maybe also touches them tangentially- to opt for the romantic way of infinity.

Directing, script, photography and editing: Andrea Bussmann
Production: Andrea Bussmann, Nicolás Pereda
Cast: Gabino Rodríguez, Víctor Pueyo, Fernando Renjifo, Ziad Chakaroun, Alberto Núñez
70 min.
México-Canadá, 2018