- If you’ve never submerged yourself in the tumultuous San Fermín festivities, you can now do so from the comfort of your cinema seat with Carlos Pardo Ros’s first solo feature
“This is a film that needs to be experienced with your gut, not with your head.” This statement is how Carlos Pardo Ros introduced the screening of H [+see also:
interview: Carlos Pardo Ros
film profile], his first solo feature (let’s not forget that he was part of the lacasinegra collective, together with Elena López Riera, Gabriel Azorín and María Antón Cabot, who took care of the editing here), in The New Waves Non-Fiction section of the 19th Seville European Film Festival.
The oft-overused adjective “organic” becomes indispensable if we want to describe this just over 60-minute-long journey to the heart of Pamplona’s darkness – specifically, its July festivities made popular the world over by figures of the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles and John Huston, to name just three foreigners who experienced and enthused about them during their visits to Spain.
Now, under the pretext of recreating, in unbridled and highly sensory fashion, the last night in the life of the director’s uncle, the filmmaker has enlisted four friends – Pedro Ladroga, Julio Carlos Ramos Zapata, Leonard Plattner and Navarrese actress Itsaso Arana (whom we saw earlier this year in You Have to Come and See It [+see also:
interview: Jonás Trueba
film profile]) – unleashing them into this throng of humans as they stumble around in pursuit of revelry. Thus, alongside them, the viewer is able to experience something akin to what is felt by those who immerse themselves in this orgy of alcohol, drugs and music, dressed in white or blue (like the protagonists of this journey).
Images and sounds – either distorted or slowed down, overlapping or chaotic (here we get a blend of dialogue, ambient noise, voicemails sent from mobile phones and so on) – gradually build up the framework of a film that possesses neither a clear storyline nor a conventional structure; rather, it experiments with audiovisual language with the goal of opening up a new dimension, where the space itself, while staying recognisable, eventually melts away and turns into something akin to a trance – but one that is not as pleasant as one might expect from such festivities.
This is where the courageousness of this cathartic exercise lies – a work that obviously has no intention of playing in the same league as mainstream titles. Instead, it invites us to let ourselves go, to avoid overthinking and to drift through a plot that is sometimes disjointed, at other times perplexing, much like the human mind becomes when we consume an excess of euphoria-inducing substances and liquids during a night that can seem to last forever.
H (the initial of the name of the protagonist’s uncle) will never be used as promotional material for the ridiculously overcrowded party that is San Fermín, which is something that the Navarrese event hardly needs anyway, but it will lead each viewer to a different and, at times, extreme mental place, from a feeling of being hauled around by a torrent of excessive emotions to diving into a more phantasmagoric dimension, to list just two moments experienced by this writer during its running time.
This film, which was shot on mobile phones, in the style of people making videos to send to their friends, during five days in July 2016, is a production by DVEIN Films. After previously being world-premiered at Visions du Réel, it will be distributed in Spain by Vitrine Filmes.
(Translated from Spanish)
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