Noah’s Ark: parallel universes
by Alfonso Rivera
- Adán Aliaga and David Valero combine their peculiar universes in the only Spanish film competing in the Official Section of the 59th Valladolid International Film Festival
San Vicente de Raspeig is a town in the east of Spain with a population of around 50,000. Among its inhabitants are the families of directors Adán Aliaga and David Valero, the creators of the hypnotic and lyrical Noah’s Ark [+see also:
film profile], the only Spanish film competing for the Golden Spike – fighting off big names such as Liv Ullmann, Volker Schlöndorff and the Dardenne brothers – at the 59th Seminci – Valladolid International Film Festival. San Vicente de Raspeig can therefore brag about being the hometown of two of the most original and daring filmmakers in the Spanish film landscape: it was there that they set most of the action of this joint effort, which follows in the wake of The Incredibles, a documentary by Valero, and Aliaga’s My Grandmother’s House, La mujer del Eternauta and Estigmas – which won the Pilar Miró Award for Best New Director at Valladolid in 2009.
This union of talent has given rise to a movie that is as enjoyable as it is fascinating, a story narrated with very little dialogue, but with powerful images and a fantasy-tale vibe – plus a low-budget feel – which charms the viewer thanks to its beauty, suggestions and the spontaneity of its actors. These three performers undoubtedly have superpowers, as was the case in The Incredibles: while one of them inflicts his “quantum touch” on his neighbours, another one speaks by means of something akin to telepathy, and the third is able to build androids that are unsettling and magical in equal measure. Because while Valero contributes his personal admiration for a group of magnificent people living their day-to-day lives, Aliaga emphasises the mystical aura that envelops their actions.
The plot itself unfolds in 2020, when the crisis – whose political milestones can be heard on the radio – hits two security guards who used to meet only when they silently came to take over from one another and exchanged the keys to the disused factory where they were employed. Up until that point, the metallic, industrial environment had been omnipresent, but when they lose their jobs, nature with all its enchanting colours appears on the scene... just like the upside-down shots that begin to suggest the parallel universes that the film pursues.
Once they are unemployed, Paco (Fran Gomis) and Miguel (Miguel Chillón) – who are, respectively, “the wolf” and “the bear” in this tale – join forces to escape from this harsh reality by building the titular device and recruiting companions for their journey, although only one person signs up: a super-skinny lesbian (Alicia Santonja) who goes by the name of “the ostrich”. Humour is therefore very much present throughout the story, which is more than capable of taking science fiction, the drama of emigration and the desire for change and turning it all into a game, a joke, a proud and admittedly hilarious – but not at all outrageous – freak show starring the filmmakers’ friends and people from their home town.
Noah’s Ark, which after Valladolid will drop in at Abycine, was lensed by the directorial duo and was even edited by them together with Aurora Sulli, the screenwriter for L’altra frontera [+see also:
interview: André Cruz Shiraiwa
film profile], a film that was presented a few days ago at the 47th Sitges Film Festival. Treeline Distribution is handling international sales.
(Translated from Spanish)