Official Selection International Feature
Dir. Tobias Nölle
SMA | Friday 22 | 14:00 hrs | Cinemex Plaza la Luciérnaga
GTO | Thursday 28 | 20:00 hrs | Auditorium of the University of Guanajuato
The Richter Scale says: Why is it easier to connect with something imaginary than to something real? Why is it that we tend to relate to something we know concretely at a distance and yet we’re fully commited to something that mainly exists in our imagination? Surely there are many answers, but the most likely one is that we have more control when make that link with something imaginary, since most of what happens in that relationship is something we make up. On the other hand, connecting to a real person with feelings and frailties requires a greater risk. Aloys Adorn (Georg Friedrich) is a private investigator that records the people around him for work and then spends hours watching what he’s recorded as a hobby. He’s happy not to belong to the world of others and more now that his father just died and the only creature invading his world is his cat.
That changes when a mysterious woman steals his camera and if he wants to get back, he’ll have to participate in a new game called “phone-walking”. Using what she says as a guide, he imagines a world where he exists with her and as he connects further and further to the game, he’ll fall in love with this woman even though, when all is said and done, all he knows of her is his voice, even if he imagines her with the body of a neighbor (Tilde von Overbeck) who is now in the hospital. When presenting our protagonist’s loneliness and isolation, Nölle introduces a world of cold and dark colors, and only bringing in warmer and brighter colors when Aloys is immersed in his fantasy and so the audience enjoys what he’s enjoying, always aware that what he enjoys isn’t real (and of course, we see Aloys’ life the same way he sees ours and the irony is certainly not lost on the filmmaker).
The film’s greatest highlight is Georg Friedrich’s performance. Playing Aloys is no easy task. He is our protagonist and he has to inspire certain empathy in the audience, but not so much that we believe that the way he keeps pushing people away is healthy for him. This man has very little in life and even though at times we may think he has every right to be alone, it’s contrasted when we meet some of his neighbors and other people who would like to interact with him and see how he just won’t allow it. This is why this character arc, from a man who rejects the world he lives in to one who finds something he wants to connect to becomes something that the audience will root for in the story. It’s a film that walks a fine line between keeping the audience at a distance from the story and expecting the audience to become involved in it, which is exactly what a story like this requires and achieves admirably.
Distancias Cortas (Walking Distance)
Official Selection Mexican Feature
Dir. Alejandro Guzmán Álvarez
SMA | Friday 22 | 14:00 hrs | Ángela Peralta Theater
GTO | Wednesday 27 | 14:00 hrs | Juárez Theater
The Richter Scale says: How does one find their place in a world that doesn’t seem to be built for them to have one? When one doesn’t have the appearance, the skills, the flexibility or even the health to get along in life, what does one do? Sooner or later we all find our place and Fede Sánchez (Luis “Luca” Ortega) found his the day he walked into a camera shop to have an old film developed and discovered a passion for photography. Fede weighs over 400 pounds and has difficulty moving. He’s already had a heart attack and hasn’t left the house in over 10 years, so he spends most of his time by himself, except when he gets visits from his sister Rosaura (Martha Claudia Moreno) who loves him but feels he’s a burden, and his brother-in-law Ramón (Mauricio Isaac) who is dominated by his wife. Through his passion for photography he forms a bond with Paulo (Joel Isaac Figueroa) the young man who developed the first roll of film and will now help him with a few dreams he thought would never come true.
The film’s greatest accomplishment is the deep empathy it develops toward its characters. Fede is one of those people who at first sight might seem grotesque or pathetic (and yes, the film includes scenes of people reacting to him that way) but the script by Itzel Lara, along with Luca Ortega’s performance, make sure to present Fede as sensitive, genuine and very aware of himself, and yet he’s never a quitter. He also connects very naturally to Joel Figueroa and Mauricio Isaac, with whom he builds the heart of the film. Rosaura is a character that the script doesn’t seem to have much use for, but Martha Claudia Moreno manages to empathize with her and finds that fragility and human dimension to her character, since it’s sadly just not present in the dialogue she says. It’s true that this is a fable and as such the characters won’t necessarily be as deep as we’d want them to be, but it’s still a sad that the script would be this dismissive of a character who seems to have the best intentions.
It’s always interesting to think about what a director and a screenwriter contribute to a film when they’re not the same person (and in this case it’s the first feature film for both), since those collaborations tend to bring fresher stories and different points of view. Unlike many films we will see in the festival, this one has plenty of dialogue and characters that are constantly expressing themselves (this is more common when the director and screenwriter are different people) and some very endearing details of story that are complemented with a visual style that mixes a reality of today’s Mexico with a much more colorful touch to give it the feel of a fairy tale. Fede’s life is a sad one, but his way to look at the world with the passion and innocence of a child bathed in a certain melancholy that comes with everything this man has been through make this a very human story filled with characters one will want to meet outside the screen.