Un ramo de cactus: Pablo Llorca, first member of the resistance
by Alfonso Rivera
- In the new section at the Seville European Film Festival, Resistances, we saw the latest work by this pioneer in going it alone
If ever there was a director who hasn’t been afraid to break the rules of cinema for the past few decades, it’s Pablo Llorca, director of Hanging Gardens. After his appearance at the Andalusian festival last year with his previous film, Recoletos up & down, he could hardly ignore the call of the festival’s new section, Resistances. His latest film, Un ramo de cactus, which he wrote, directed and produced himself (in trademark style), has consolidated this Madridrilenian as a pioneer of self-management, liberty and low costs, characteristics which nowadays define an entire generation of young filmmakers who have all passed through Seville.
Un ramo de cactus is the story of Alfonso, a mature and contrary man, who comes from a wealthy family. He has distanced himself from those closest to him, moving to the countryside in order to live off his organic crops, keeping in line with his nonconformist political views. Following the birth of his grandson, a desire stirs within him: to take the young boy under his wing and instil within him his own set of principles that are far from the dominant materialism. But theory is one thing, and it doesn’t always match up with reality.
In this way, Llorca dissects a social class that he knows well and looks at it under the microscope of the current ethical and ideological crisis, as these ideals struggle to stand up to an ultra-liberalism, which, like a tsunami, violently pushes aside all these dreams of justice, purity and freedom; dreams which fed the imaginations of several generations. While Alfonso embodies the resistance, his brother, a capitalist who made his fortune in construction, symbolises the sort of attitude supported by a society that has succumbed to its desire for wealth. Using his famous naturalistic narrative style, free from embellishments, Llorca uses this film to take a close look at the notion of the transmission of values from father to son, and depicts characters that are as lively and real as the people you see ranting and raving in bars on the corner.
As the director declared when he met with the audience of the Seville European Film Festival, “Life passes by, our dogmas are forever.” Cinema is also continuing down its own path, shaken by certain events, but come hell or high water, Llorca will not let go of the liberty of his methods. It is a path he decided to take on instinct more than 20 years ago, simply because he refused to be bound. In this regard, Pablo Llorca is well and truly the first member of the resistance.
(Translated from Spanish)