July 31, 2014
Slices of provincial life in Argentina
For the Herald
Two indie features by Iván Fund premier in BA movie theatres tomorrow
In a very unusual move, two Argentine independent features by Iván Fund have been released together this week: Me perdí hace una semana and AB both of them respectively featured at the Mar del Plata film festival and the BAFICI. And while you could say that in terms of their stories the two films are not connected, when it comes to their formal values you can easily see they belong to the same auteur.
Fund’s features take place in unnamed provincial towns and boroughs and follow the everyday routine of ordinary people engaged in simple matters. In Me perdí hace una semana, there are four protagonists: Pepo and Yasu, a young couple who has just moved to a working-class neighbourhood; Eva, a policewoman who lives with her young daughter; and Michi, an effeminate fortune teller (not a clean-cut gay man, but a real queen) who’s lost his dog a week ago. Each of them with their own minimal story.
Like Eduardo Crespo and Celina Murga, two other Argentine filmmakers who eschew all kinds of artifice, Fund goes for pure realism (even if it’s not dirty realism) in depicting snippets of time and space from the lives of his characters.
With a documentary edge to it, Me perdí hace una semana warmly portrays intimate, introspective moments in the lives of its protagonists, but also significant fragments of their laid-back, apparently anecdotic conversations. It’s the type of movie that invites viewers to become a part of a moderately rewarding emotional experience, provided viewers know in advance that no major twists and turns are to be found here. In fact, none of the protagonists are fully developed characters either. But the minute they talk about or go through something that touches them deeply, several dimensions are unveiled.
However, what makes the “stories” most appealing is not only their particular shades and nuances, but how these scenes have been filmed: with an inconspicuous, lucid camera that finds beauty in the simplicity of barren spaces while capturing, at the same time, feelings and moods in compelling close-ups and wide-open general shots of the environment. Add a multilayered sound design that reproduces the actual feeling of being there, and you have an up-and-close personal look at a minimal universe that is as tender and joyous as it is melancholic and lonely.
On the other hand, AB places its gaze upon the friendship between Arita and Belencha, two older teenagers for whom the monotonous, restricted small-town life is becoming too confined. For Belencha, Buenos Aires seems the place to go in order to step into a new world. For the time being, a single activity takes up most of their time: walking around and around to find homes for the seven puppies Belencha’s dog has just had. So they go around in circles, stopping at every neighbour’s house to tell them about the cute puppies.
AB is equal to Me perdí hace una semana in how subtly the different and particular traits of the everyday are captured, but the former purposely lacks the sense of minimalist narrative the later one has. Meant to be some kind of road movie on foot, AB elicits some interesting scenes from some of its characters, but otherwise it’s repetitive and kind of ineffective — including the last 15 minutes filmed in 3D, for no visible purpose. However, when seen together, these two pieces by Iván Fund not only establish a poetry that joins them, but also complete one another in what they express about certain places that enfold seemingly invisible lives.
Me perdí hace una semana (Argentina, 2013). Directed by Iván Fund. Screenplay by: Iván Fund, Eduardo Crespo, with the collaboration of Santiago Loza. With: Eva Bianco, Juan Nanio, Yasmín Malanca, José María “Michi” Espinoza, Hugo Fund. Cinematography: Iván Fund. Editing: Lorena Moriconi. Produced by Iván Eibuszyc, Iván Fund, Eduardo Crespo. Running time: 70 minutes.
AB (Argentina, 2013). Directed by Iván Fund and Andreas Koefoed. Screenplay: Ivan Fund, Andreas Koefoed, Santiago Loza. With: Araceli Castellanos Gotte, Belén Werbach. Cinematography: Iván Fund, Andreas Koefoed. Produced by Iván Fund, Andreas Koefoed, Iván Eibuszyc. Editing: Eduardo Crespo, Milton Secchi. Running time: 67 minutes.