Five films at documentary film festival in Madrid

Sin-títuloJosé Arriaga

During the week of May 5–12, 2013, the Spanish capital of Madrid projected diverse stories from around the globe on the big screen. A total of 75 documentaries were screened and hosted in Matadero’s Cineteca, along with special screenings at Cine Doré. In addition, Casa Árabe hosted documentaries about an Arab Spring that continues to reverberate, and Casa América focused on the current state of the Mexican documentary. I was fortunate to attend the screening of five documentaries during the festival. Please check for more information.

“El otro día” (Ignacio Agüero, Chile, 2012, 120′)
Chilean director, Ignacio Agüero takes the observational documentary to new levels as he documents his barrio in Santiago de Chile by setting up a camera at the front door of his home and captures his door-knocking visitors. We observe the street, neighborhood, city and state of the human condition of his neighborhood as the documentary follows a mailman, drug addict, street cleaner, mechanic, and a film student.

After Agüero films them from his door step, he visits the protagonists at their own homes. “You knock on my door, I knock on your door,” the filmmaker says. An organic sense of community is created as they open up their doors to tell their stories.

The mailman stands out the most, as not only does he deliver mail but builds a therapeutic relationship with whom he delivers to as the years go by.

“El otro día” makes you want to make a documentary!

“Dime quién era Sanchicorrota” (Jorge Tur Moltó, Spain, 2013, 63′)
A myth, a bandit, a 15th century Robin Hood? Director Jorge Tur Moltó’s simple cinema verité camerawork creates dialog within the local community about a local legend in the Basque Country. Though it feels on the one hand unfinished, the flip side of the script is that, on and off the screen, we get to see a view of a forgotten pastoral countryside..

“La cigüeña metálica” (Joan Lopez Lloret, Spain, 2012, 81′)
Through the eyes of 3 youths growing up too fast, Lloret focuses on the civil war in El Salvador (1980–92) and its thumb print on rural youth through the tales of their dreams, desires and worries within the majestic world of jungles, rivers and historical ghosts that the future of Salvadorians must traverse to survive.

Beautifully shot with curative scenes and stories, it brings this world organically closer to the spectator. A must peep!


“Elena” (Petra Costa, Brazil/Portugal, 2012, 80′)
A poetic story based on dream, depression, and dance told by a mother and two sisters.

Through homemade archival footage of Elena, intertwined with narrative of her sister Petra Costa, this documentary creates a visual treat and soundtrack to pay homage to Elena.

Who is Elena? She is a dancer from Brazil, a daughter and older sister with dreams that end with suicide in New York. This leads Petra to follow in her footsteps to bring the family tragedy into the light and out of the darkness of Elena’s fatal depression.

“Elena” brings forth the magic and greatness of documentaries…that every one of us has a story to tell and that, that story is special.

“In the Darkroom” (N. Schirman, Finland/Germany/Israel/Italy/Romania, 2012, 88′)
The Jackal, also known as ‘El Chacal,’ is a Venezuelan revolutionary behind bars for life for his bloody terrorist campaigns in Germany, France and the Middle East during the 1970’s. All this was shared with his wife and daughter.

Footage of the family is seen living in Syria and Venezuela which gives us a weird sense of normality during these hectic times and as eventually the closing web that slowly trapped the Jackal in Sudan leads to his arrest, Magdalena Kopp, his ex lover, escaped and was able to raise their daughter in relative obscurity in Germany.

“In the Dark Room” culminates with the daughter visiting Carlos, the Jackal, in prison. (No cameras allowed) As she returns to her hotel room and telephones her mother to talk about the visit we witness a first hand report of this infamous man.

This is one of those special documentaries on how world politics come down to individuals and their effect on families.

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