Magazine article Screen International

La Sirga

Magazine article Screen International

La Sirga

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: William Vega. Colombia-France-Mexico. 2011. 90mins

A slow-burn Andean fable of considerable evocative power, William Vega's first feature is the latest in an impressive string of Colombian arthouse films that includes Los Viajes del Vento and El Vuelco del Cangrejo (on which Vega worked as assistant director). Set on the remote La Cocha lake high up in the mountains of south-western Chile, this is a film that overcomes the occasional mannered art-film cliché to weave a dreamlike elegy about a war-torn part of Colombia that is at the same time a nicely underplayed coming-of-age story.

The ending is perhaps a little too allusive and poetic for its own good.

Still, its charms are as much cerebral and emotional, and while it will certainly garner a handful of deals in territories with robust word cinema audiences, La Sirga is unlikely to match the interest generated by Las Acacias, one of last year's Latin American discoveries in Cannes.

Sofia Oggioni Hatty's carefully-framed and naturally-lit photography establishes a strong sense of place and atmosphere, working hand in hand with the production design of La Sirga - the leaky wooden lakeside inn where teenage Alicia (Arias) takes refuge with her reclusive uncle Don Oscar (Roble, a non-professional who is president of a Colombian NGO) from the violence that has killed both her parents.

The perpetrators are never named, but Colombians will recognise the area as a stronghold of the FARC guerrilla army, and perhaps read a more detailed symbolism than the rest of us into images of fog, distant thunder, bruised knees, abandoned mineworkings and a roof that fails to keep the rain out.

Gruff but not unkind, Oscar reluctantly allows his niece to stay for a while. She helps out her uncle's taciturn and protective housekeeper Flora (Achicanoy), who mistrusts the new arrival, but will gradually warm to her. …

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