Reviews: Reviews of “Atlas” and “Like the sky after it rains”

By Ezequiel Boetti and Diego Batlle

Premiered on 03-03-2022


Published on 02-03-2022

Two films that went through the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Mar del Plata Festival arrive in theaters.

Atlas (Argentina/2021) Direction, script, photography and edition: Guadalupe Gaona and Ignacio Masllorens. Sound: Pablo Orzeszko. Music: Ezequiel Kronenberg. Production: Agustín Gagliardi. Duration: 89 minutes. Every Friday in March, at 8 pm, at the MALBA (Av. Figueroa Alcorta 3415).

The reconstruction of the passage through Argentina of the German neurobiologist Christofredo Jakob at the end of the 19th century allows us to draw a few bridges between past and present. After passing through the Argentine Competition of the Mar del Plata Festival 2021, it premieres at MALBA
In 1899, the German neurobiologist Christofredo Jakob was hired by the Argentine government to conduct brain studies in humans and animals in Buenos Aires. For years, he lived and worked at the National Hospital for Alienated Women (currently called Moyano), where he created an archive with thousands of pieces and photographs that today gather dust in a pavilion there.

Author together with Clemente Onelli, then director of the Buenos Aires Zoological Garden, of the Atlas of the mammalian brain of the Argentine Republic (1913), Jakob also traveled to Patagonia to study Andean fauna and geography. What remains of his legacy? How does his work dialogue with a very different present in scientific and health terms? Guadalupe Gaona and Ignacio Masllorens try to answer these and other questions in Atlas.

For that they speak with their granddaughter and great-granddaughter -whose dialogues contribute less in informative terms than as comic triggers, with the mother nullifying or minimizing everything the other says- and they go through those places where Jakob passed more than a century ago. His imprint is evident in the ten jars with severed brains, mammals preserved in formalin and other pieces that, without intending to, also function as a record of a time when scientific research was above any hint of pity for the other people’s lives

“We are interested in photographs,” the directors say at one point, minutes before going through an album with images of hospitalized women –with their lost gazes, their faces drained of life, their mostly stooped body postures– during the studies. The talks of the local doctors –which the filmmakers record in an observational manner, without interfering in the action– show that the situation is different, although it is clear that the patients continue to be treated as objects stripped of subjectivity.

The cruelty of psychiatric devices opposes the visit to the Buenos Aires Ecopark, where the zoo operated for decades. There the boys marvel at these wild animals in captivity, although cared for and well fed. Atlas It stands, then, as a paradoxical film that shows that, more than a century after Jakob’s investigations, the “crazy” live worse than animals. EZEQUIEL BOETTI

like the sky after rain (Argentina-Columbia/2020). Script and direction: Mercedes Gaviria. Photography: Mercedes Gaviria, Mauricio Reyes and Alejandra León. Editing: Rodrigo Traverso and Florencia Gómez García. Sound: Marcos Canosa, Mercedes Gaviria. Music: Matías Gowland. Production: Jerónimo Atehortúa, Mercedes Gaviria and Eugenia Campos Guevara. Duration: 73 minutes. At El Cultural San Martín (Sarmiento 1551), on Thursday 3, at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday 5, at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday 12, at 5:00 p.m.; Sunday 13, at 5:00 p.m.; Friday 18, 20; Sunday 20, at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday 26, at 5:00 p.m.; and Sunday 27, at 5:00 p.m. Streaming in the virtual room Puentes de Cine.

This film had a previous step through the Latin American Competition of the Mar del Plata Festival 2020 and is now part of the documentary program of the region at El Cultural San Martín.

Mercedes Gaviria was born in Medellín in 1982, studied at FUC and Di Tella University, and specialized in sound (she worked in Las Vegasby Juan Villegas; the daughters of fire, by Albertina Carri; or private fiction, by Andres Di Tella). And she is also the daughter of Víctor Gaviria, one of the most recognized Colombian directors after Rodrigo D: No future, the seller of roses, Addition and subtraction and the animal woman. Precisely the shooting of this 2016 film (a sordid and heartbreaking story about gender violence) is one of the axes of Like the sky after it rains.

But we are not facing a mere making of, but Mercedes endows her essay and personal diary with several other layers: it is, on the one hand, a home movie that recovers home footage that Víctor filmed when she was a baby, of a trip back from her adoptive Buenos Aires to her native Medellin; and, above all, a look of a daughter who tries to consolidate herself in the cinema before an overwhelming type, at times a little cruel and despotic, and consecrated in the same artistic field that she has chosen.

There is a certain Oedipal seasoning in the film (the idea of ​​“killing the father” hovers over the story), but Víctor’s magnetism, charm and manipulative ability means that the daughter does not fully achieve her initially questioning objective. The result is an essay that in certain passages reaches peaks of lyricism and emotion. A story of reunions and estrangements, of generational differences, of resentments and, of course, also of love. DIEGO BATLLE

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