VISIONS DU RÉEL 2020: THE CALM AFTER THE STORM BY MERCEDES GAVIRIA

This entry was posted on May 1st, 2020

By Ivonne Sheen

There’s a good amount of Latinamerican films and short films which are part of the 51°st Visions du Réel. These seem to be new and refreshing voices of non-fiction films that also confronts and questions recurrent tendencies about filmmaking that echo conservatisms that trespasses the structures of our latinamerican communities. The Calm after the Storm (2020) by young colombian filmmaker Mercedes Gaviria is a bright example of these new gazes, which aim to renew and re build new paths in latinamerican filmmaking, and break away from ideologies rooted in past generations, by exposing and question them. The film is part of the competitive section Burning Lights.

The first feature of Gaviria belongs to a constant production of autobiographical non-fiction films in Latinamerica, but is specially close to the recent colombian film Mute Fire (2019) by Federico Aterhortúa. Both films have been produced by Invasión Cine, a collective production company in which Aterhortúa participates. Nevertheless this common production detail, both films are connected in their essayistic approach to the intimate. In the case of Gaviria’s film, her intimacy deals with her affective memory about the masculine figure of her father Victor Gaviria, who is a well known colombian filmmaker. The film opens with an introduction of herself and her father’s invitation to the film shooting of his new film, La mujer del animal (2016). Gaviria inquires in her family ties, loyal to its complex nature, as a therapeutical process for her affective identity as a woman and as a young filmmaker. She has grown apart from the dominant figure of her father, but there’s still a complicity in between them because of their shared passion. He understands her when she asks to move an object that will compose a better shot and he also performs a little. Gaviria knows her father very well, and she achieves to critically reveal the veins inside her family structure.

Mute Fire (2019) and The Calm after the Storm (2020) are powerful as portraits of silence, as a common behavior and state of things in contexts of injustice and inequality. In their cases, both films portrays motherly figures which are silent as consequences of trauma or desolation. The relationship of Gaviria’s parents seem to exemplify the inequalities in binary patriarchal relationships. Women are the ones who always wait and adapt to the desire of men. Gaviria seems to connect her distance to her father with her resistance to take a main role position in big film productions and becoming into a sound mixer. The director approaches her mother but she doesn’t achieve to open up wounds from the past. The film is about her father as a man and as a successful passionated filmmaker. In this sense, Gaviria connects masculinity with a traditional filmmaking, in which a big crew is needed and the voice of an author is above everything. This a powerful critical point of view that could be analogue to the strong connection of the patriarchy with industrial capitalist system. Also as a resistance to this, The Calm after the Storm is austere and transparent about its on process of making.

Gaviria’s film involve home movies recorded by his father and a film diary during the film shooting of her father’s last film and her stay with her family in Colombia during that time. She currently lives and works in Argentina, where she also went away to study film. Gaviria is not afraid to dive into the deepest affective dimension that trespasses us all, which are also fields of struggle and deconstruction in latin american societies. This film seems to be a liberation from family roots as a coming of age, but Gaviria is also conscious of her father’s relevance for colombian filmmaking, and dares to expose and reflect on her personal intimacy to open a dialogue about our gender roles and film traditions.

Burning lights section
Director: Mercedes Gaviria
Producer: Jerónimo Atehortúa Arteaga
Country: Colombia
Duration: 1h 16m