Guillermo García López’s film came to Valletta Film Festival this year and was screened in Pjazza San Gorg, a place that seemed far from the hustle and bustle of on-screen Tokyo crossroads or the buzz of Madrid. The film is structured around the wisdoms of Uruguay’s Mujica, whose words bring us closer to understanding the delicate grounds upon which we tread as human inhabitants of the a world run chiefly according to the doctrines of capitalism. This is a film about humanity, what makes us happy and what makes us sad. It covers different echelons of society and leaves us with a sense of the power of what cinema can instigate; namely not only an emotional response, but also an enhanced desire for change.
We are given a window into desperation – we see a man left destitute after his wife’s terminal illness, a suicidal Japanese businessman and the struggles of a Sub-Saharan community attempting to make it over to Europe. Yet the film still manages to foster a refreshingly optimistic position as we are left with hope that our approach to life can be effectively remodelled. The frequent usage of bright colours in this film adds vivacity to the image, which fortifies the sense of strength and positivity. As we travel from Japan to Spain to Uruguay and back again we come to realise that borders cannot divide human consciousness, hopes, desires and fears. The community is juxtaposed with the individual throughout this film to great effect. Wide shots of the fast paced lifestyle of city dwellers are filmed from above as we see a fleet of umbrellas dashing across the street in Tokyo, creating a sense of distance and emphasizing the possibility of beauty from afar, when time is taken to step away and reflect. The mass is contrasted with the intimate personal portraits that reveal the voices of the otherwise voiceless. As we see a Japanese businessman close to tears as he speaks of his dream of retreating to an island, far away from his city job, we feel this man’s very human, relatable hopes and can connect with him no matter where in the world we are when watching this film.
The use of Mujica’s speech elevates him to a quasi-oracle figure, making his voice the guiding thread throughout the film, yet even this position is called into question when Mujica jokingly reminds us of his age and assures us of the irrelevance of his words. By making the audience call into question the seeming stability of Mujica’s position, the film succeeds in cleverly portraying the fragility of the equilibrium upon which our existence and our perceptions rely. This fragile equilibrium is even to be seen in the symbol that appears on the film’s poster and again in its credits, a series of three shapes, a circle, a square and a triangle, balancing precariously on one another. This symbol encapsulates both stasis and movement and impending change. The image has been captured in time and it is our decision how it is to be realigned in the future. This is a film for hope and conscious deliberation, but above all for the people. If more people saw this film and applied its questioning nature to their lives, with the risk of sounding clichéd, it is likely that the world would be a better place.
Written by Melita Cameron-Wood