Ärtico: cold existences
by David González
- Salamanca-based Gabriel Velázquez closes his trilogy on family with radical steps close to distraught teenage years in deep, rural Spain
Most probably, you think that the natural atmosphere of tales on youth lost because of violence, drugs and fallen dreams needs to be shown through dark alleyways where destinies falter never to re-emerge. Salamanca director Gabriel Velázquez shows that things do not necessarily need to be this way. Indeed, he takes lost destinies to the rural world where there are no alleyways, but just abandoned factories and unmoving landscapes. The cold emanating from them is just the same. Ärtico [+see also:
film profile] is the third chapter from his “family versus solitude trilogy”, in which the director found a direct parallel between the lack of warmth (before Ärtico, Iceberg [+see also:
film profile]), which so often underlines the difference between what is human and what is (almost) inhumane. Velázquez’s third film is part of the official selection at the 2014 Brussels Film Festival after being presented in the Generation 14Plus section of the Berlinale.
These cold lives filmed by Velázquez are of Simón (Juanlu Sevillano) and Jota (Víctor García), two youngsters trapped in between adolescence, maturity and delinquency, who are looking to find their own space in rural Salamanca, through gun-shots, low-scale law-infringements and unwanted pregnancies. The first has a child with Alba, who now lives with his family, even if he would prefer disappearing with Jota instead of having to take care of them both. The other does the same with Debi. His only contact with a baby was when he met drug dealer Lucía’s new born, as the latter was being taken care of by his neighbour. Velázquez lets characters come on and off stage, giving the same importance to them as the landscapes around them, existing within the inertia of their everyday existences.
Ärtico chooses to be a portrait presenting characters in a voluntary way. Each one of them looks into the camera for a few seconds, with their name and a sentence that accompanies them (like “I was behind bars and not even my mother came to visit”). Because of this, the film is as naturalist and radical as it is artificial: a look towards the camera in the middle of a crying scene (or something similar) is too destabilizing. The game of Ärtico is also to reverberate like the rhythmic percussions of a gunshot originating from the virtuous hands of a peasant. This contributes towards the film overcoming both natural and artificial elements and mounting into a tense crescendo crucial to the film’s screenplay.
(Translated from Spanish)