Blade Runner 2049
The Square
Un beau soleil intérieur
The Glass Castle
Kleine ijstijd
Long live the unhappy childhood!

A la Cantábrica

Argentina, 2012 | Ezequiel Erriquez
Ivo De Kock checked in from Brussels to the see the world premiere of the Argentinian Coming-of-age drama A La Cantábrica.

If the maxim 'An unhappy childhood is a writer's goldmine' holds true, only suffering can lead to anything. But as Claude Debussy knew, 'art is the prettiest of lies.' And there is more. Like educators, many film journalists see themselves as adults, reducing threatening, disturbing cinematic experiences to reassuring judgments. On the other hand, writers, filmmakers and cinephile critics knowingly play with childishness, with immaturity.

Childhood is viewed as a potential threat by adults: it represents the temptation of irresponsibility, the elusiveness of melancholia and the boundlessness of joy. Dealing with cinema and literature requires the spectator or reader to temporarily leave the adult world. During this absence, risks are taken, certainties are questioned, and the shock of the new is inspiring. 'This feeling of remaining a sincere and stubborn child with all his caprices in the face of the condescending and bloated good sense of the adult world is certainly something that I'm still a little proud of', Serge Daney wrote in Postcards from the Cinema.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a tormented artistic soul, did not believe people when they flaunted their so-called happy childhoods. To him, to be young was to suffer, but there was beauty in this adolescent pain: 'It isn't easy to accept that suffering can also be beautiful... it's difficult, it's something you can only understand if you dig deeply into yourself.'

We could ruminate without end about what makes a childhood happy or unhappy, but what is interesting is how that childhood lives on in the adult. Not in the sense of a continuing fascination for miniature trains, but in a refusal to let go of the child's uninhibited wonderment. Facebook cultivates a discourse of spiky one-liners and straightforward explanations, and delivers ready-made bundles of culture. But actual art requires us to find our own way. Indeed, the meetings that take place this way remain the finest moments of the erstwhile unhappy child.

The English writer and poet Lord Byron claimed that he was only happy for a few minutes of his life, but that those few minutes made all the rest worthwhile. The great misconception educators (and many film journalists) hold, is that there is a market where knowledge, well-being and happiness can be purchased, provided one knows the language in which to ask for it. And they, from their ivory towers, will teach us that language. Creative filmmakers manage to re-immerse us in our childhoods while at the same time pointing to the crisis that accompanies the passage into adulthood. This is how they excite cinephiles as they travel to what Daney calls a 'country called cinema', magical and mysterious thanks to our childlike wonderment.

The Facebook page for the Argentinian movie A la Cantábrica lists Gus Van Sant as a favourite. That's no coincidence. Like Van Sant, director/writer Ezequiel Erriquez attempts to bring together experimental and classical cinema. And just as in Van Sant's films, his debut feature shows a fascination with young people on the margins of society. His coming-of-age drama deals with the transition from childhood to adolescence, situating his story in a time when the passage into adulthood was considered to take place in early adolescence, at the moment when children become sexually mature.

It's 1997 and in the suburbs of Buenos Aires three 12-year-old friends struggle with the difficult transition into adolescence. In absence of an official rite of passage, they break into the deserted industrial park La Cantábrica ("It seems as if nobody's there, let's go in.") and tag the walls with their names: Choco, Lola, Lija. Zota stands guard at the gates and becomes infatuated with a blind, aging actress. He escorts her to a playground and attempts to invite her to his birthday party. Lola is fed up with the discipline and routine of her extremely classical ballet school. Choco is burdened with more responsibilities as his grandmother weakens both physically and mentally. Lija is uncomfortable with his developing sexuality. Their slumbering malaise turns into outright crisis when they are confronted with something mysterious and disconcerting on the apocalyptic factory grounds. The group is thrown off kilter and the young adolescents realise that their lives are about to change radically.

Erriquez gravitated towards 12-your-old protagonists since "a crisis is natural at that age." the film concerns the crisis of sexual awaking, triggered by biology lessons, sex scenes in movies and Lola's confession of her first period. It also concerns the crisis of emotion, the conflict between the desire to hold on to a mollycoddled childhood and the nurturing reflex that forces these children towards 'adult' responsibility. Finally, it also concerns the crisis of the mind, in which child-like carelessness makes way for fears and anxieties. Time and again, pain invades happiness. Chico's suffering grandmother ("I'm suffocating," she says and that should be taken literally) tells him he has to go and live with his father's family. Zota discovers that his amorous feelings are not reciprocated and Lola is told she needs to focus during a ballet class. The crisis reaches its zenith when Zota disappears.

The filmmaker ties this personal crisis of children-in-transition to a changing society. The key to this link is a throwaway line, uttered in an abandoned factory: "My father used to work here." Erriquez points out the contradiction of a society in which a slumbering socio-economic crisis is imminent, but hidden. A society in which public spaces used to dominate social life, but where private space is becoming more important. Where the collective is starting to be dominated by the individual.

"I am interested in approaching this film from a dark point of view without falling into melancholy," the filmmaker says. That gloominess, shot through with a sense of tristesse, is linked to characters with different social backgrounds and themes like education, acting, sickness, loneliness, communication disorders and blindness. A dash of Van Sant, a hint of Fassbinder. After all, these childhoods seem far from happy and joyful. When a child is left 'home alone' he does not have cheerful adventures focused on success, but instead eats microwaved meals en stares vacantly at the television. There is no pleasure in recording audiobooks for the blind (at an uncle's sound studio) or giving direction ("You have to enter the scene now"). And for these kids, the dreams adults have ("I was just remembering," grandma tells her grandson) have more to do with death than life. It's no coincidence that the kids find a severed head among the garbage at La Cantábrica.

Despite its dark tone, this coming-of-age tale is also an ode to childhood, its energy and its capacity to couple a desire for maturity with an attempt to hold on to immaturity. To couple performance and play (both on stage and on location) with joy, mystery and fear at a primal level. As primal as the filmmaker's metaphors. And a little like the cinephiles who, like Daney, realise that there is a whole world — simultaneously nearby and far away — to be discovered by watching films. Films that, in the words of Daney, 'forever cure teenagers of their innocence'.

The kids in A La Cantábrica break into a railway yard, scramble onto a departing train, but in the end travel only in their minds, their imaginations, while staring into a crackling campfire after demolishing a car wreck. It is the viewer who takes a trip. Erriquez references watching (the boys discover what it means not to see by blindfolding themselves) and cinema (the scenes in the movie theatre) but more than anything, he invites his audience to take their own journey of discovery. A cinematic exploration that transports us to another time, another culture and another world. An unknown world, that looks familiar because 'unhappy childhoods' are universal. But more than anything, it is a world that excites us by carrying us back to childhood, to an innocent state of mind. Just for a moment. In the darkness. As long as the projection lasts.

Ivo De Kock

A La Cantábrica (Ezequiel Erriquez, Argentina 2012, 80')



top
A la Cantábrica

Februari 2012 #340

Slow Criticism 2012

Titelindex


ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ1&


A

À BOUT DE SOUFFLE
À bras ouverts
A DEMAIN
A DIVINA COMÉDIA
À l'aveugle
A L'ORIGINE
A la Cantábrica
A LA PLACE DU COEUR
À LA VERTICALE DE L'ÉTÉ
À MA SOEUR (FAT GIRL)
À MAINS NUES
À perdre la raison
À TOUT DE SUITE
A TOUTE VITESSE
A VENDRE
THE A-TEAM
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
A.K.A.
AALTRA
Aanmodderfakker
AANRIJDING IN MOSCOU
DE AAP
Abduction
THE ABDUCTION CLUB
ABEL
ABELTJE
ABGESCHMINKT
ABOUNA
ABOUT A BOY
ABOUT ADAM
ABOUT ELLY
About Last Night
ABOUT SCHMIDT
About Time
Above Us All
El abrazo de la serpiente
EL ABRAZO PARTIDO
LOS ABRAZOS ROTOS
ABRE LOS OJOS
Abrir puertas y ventanas
ABSOLUTE GIGANTEN
ABSOLUTE POWER
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Las acacias
ACCELERATOR
ACCIDENTAL HERO
THE ACCIDENTAL HUSBAND
THE ACCIDENTAL SPY
ACCION MUTANTE
L' ACCOMPAGNATRICE
The Accountant
ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE
ACE VENTURA: WHEN NATURE CALLS
Achtste-groepers huilen niet
THE ACID HOUSE
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
The Act of Killing
Act of Valor
ADAM & PAUL
ADAM'S APPLES
ADAM'S RIB
ADAPTATION.
ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES
ADDICTED TO LOVE
ADDO, KONING DER DIEREN
ADELHEID
Adem
Adieu au langage
Adieu Berthe
ADIEU FORAIN
ADIEU, PLANCHER DES VACHES!
Les adieux à la Reine
Adios Amigos
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
Admission
ADORATION
ADRENALINE
ADRIENN PAL
ADRIFT
ADVENTURELAND
THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH
THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT
The Adventures of Tintin
L' ADVERSAIRE
ADVOCAAT VAN DE HANEN
ADVOCAATJE LEEF JE NOG?
AE FOND KISS
AEON FLUX
AFBLIJVEN
AFFAIR PLAY
UNE AFFAIRE DE GOÛT
LES AFFINITÉS ÉLECTIVES
AFFLICTION
AFRAID OF THE DARK
ÀFRICA
AFRICA UNITED
THE AFRICAN QUEEN
African Safari
Afscheid van de maan
After Earth
AFTER LIFE
After the Storm
AFTER THE SUNSET
After the Tone
AFTER THE WEDDING
AFTERGLOW
Aftermath
AFTERSCHOOL
AGAINST THE ROPES
AGATA E LA TEMPESTA
The Age of Adaline
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
AGENT CODY BANKS
AGENT CODY BANKS 2
AGORA
THE AGRONOMIST
AGUA FRÍA DEL MAR
AI NO SHINSEKAI (A NEW LOVE IN TOKYO/TOKYO DECADENCE 2)
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER
AIMÉE & JAGUAR
Ain't Them Bodies Saints
AIR BUD
AIR BUD: DE TOPSCOORDER
UN AIR DE FAMILLE
AIR DOLL
AIR FORCE ONE
AIRHEADS
Aita
AJAMI
AJAX — DAAR HOORDEN ZIJ ENGELEN ZINGEN
ALAMAR
THE ALAMO
ALASKA
ALATRISTE
Albert Nobbs
Alberta
ALBINO ALLIGATOR
Alceste à bicyclette
ALEGRÍA
ALETTA JACOBS: HET HOOGSTE STREVEN
Alex Cross
ALEX VAN WARMERDAM DVD-BOX
Alex van Warmerdam: Gebouwd voor de film
ALEXANDER
ALEXANDER NEVSKY
ALEXANDRA
ALEXANDRA'S PROJECT
ALFIE
ALI
ALI G INDAHOUSE
ALI ZAOUA
ALIAS KURBAN SAÏD
Alias Maria
ALIBI
ALICE
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Alice Through the Looking Glass
ALIEN LEGACY BOX
ALIEN RESURRECTION
ALIEN VS PREDATOR
ALIEN VS PREDATOR 2
ALIEN — THE DIRECTOR'S CUT
Alien: Covenant
ALIVE
All Eyez on Me
ALL GOD'S CHILDREN CAN DANCE
All is Lost
ALL MEN ARE MORTAL
ALL NIGHT HORROR SHOW 9
ALL OR NOTHING
All Quiet on the Western Front
All Roads Lead to Rome
ALL STARS
All stars 2: Old stars
ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
ALL THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN
ALL THE PRETTY HORSES
ALL THE RIGHT NOISES
ALL THINGS FAIR
All You Need is Me
ALLE TIJD
Alleen maar nette mensen
Alléluia
Alleman (Workshop Filmkritiek)
Alles is familie
ALLES IS LIEFDE
ALLES MOET WEG
ALLES STROOMT
Alles van waarde
Alles voor elkaar
Allied
Almanya — Wilkommen in Deutschland
ALMOST FAMOUS
Alone in Berlin
ALONG CAME A SPIDER
ALONG CAME POLLY
Aloys
ALPHA & OMEGA 3D
ALPHA DOG
Alphabet
ALPHAVILLE
Alps
Als je verliefd wordt
ALS KAT EN HOND
ALTIPLANO
ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS 2
Alvin & The Chipmunks 3
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS
Alvin en de Chipmunks: The Road Chip
ALZA LA TESTA
AM SEIDENEN FADEN
L' amant double
LOS AMANTES DEL CÍRCULO POLAR
Los amantes pasajeros
LES AMANTS CRIMINELS
LES AMANTS RÉGULIERS
The Amazing Catfish
AMAZING GRACE
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 3D
The Amazing Spider-Man 3D
AMAZONES
Amazonia
AMEN.
AMER
AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS
THE AMERICAN
American Assassin
AMERICAN BEAUTY
AMERICAN BUFFALO
AMERICAN CUISINE (CUISINE AMÉRICAINE)
American Dreams (lost and found)
AMERICAN DREAMZ
AMERICAN GANGSTER
AMERICAN HISTORY X
American Honey
American Made
American Pastoral
AMERICAN PIE
AMERICAN PIE 2
American Pie: The Reunion
AMERICAN PIE: THE WEDDING (AMERICAN WEDDING)
THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT
AMERICAN PSYCHO
American Sniper
AMERICAN SPLENDOR
American Ultra
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS
AMERRIKA
L' AMI HOLLANDAIS
L' AMICO DI FAMIGLIA
AMIN
AMISTAD
AMITYVILLE HORROR
AMNESIA
AMONG HORSES AND MEN
L' AMORE MOLESTO
AMORES PERROS
Amour
Un amour de jeunesse
Amour fou (Jessica Hausner over)
LES AMOURS IMAGINAIRES
AMSTERDAM, GLOBAL VILLAGE
Amy
AMY'S ORGASM
An
AN ALAN SMITHEE FILM: BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN
AN ANGEL FOR MAY
AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE
AN EDUCATION
AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK
AN IDEAL HUSBAND
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
AN UNFINISHED LIFE
Ana ana
L' anabase
ANACONDA
ANACONDAS
ANALYZE THAT
ANALYZE THIS
ANASTASIA
ANATOMIE
ANCHE LIBERO VA BENE
THE ANCHORAGE
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
And Everything is Going Fine
AND NOW... LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
And So It Goes
AND THE BAND PLAYED ON
AND WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER
Die andere Heimat: Chronik einer Sehnsucht
ANDRE
The Andrei Tarkovsky Collection
ANDROMEDIA
ANGEL
ANGEL BABY
ANGEL EYES
ANGEL ON THE RIGHT
ANGELA'S ASHES
ANGÈLE ET TONY
THE ANGELIC CONVERSATION
ANGELS & DEMONS — HET BERNINI MYSTERIE
ANGELS OF THE UNIVERSE
The Angels' Share
ANGER MANAGEMENT
LES ANGES GARDIENS
ANGIE (Martha Coolidge)
ANGIE (Martin Lagestee)
L' ANGLAISE ET LE DUC
Angry Birds Movie
Angry Indian Goddesses
ANGST (Georg Kargl)
ANGST (Michiel van Erp)
ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING
ANI IMOTO
ANIKI-BÓBÓ
ANIMAL
ANIMAL FACTORY
ANIMAL KINGDOM
Animals
ANIMALS UNITED 3D
ANKLAGET
ANNA AND THE KING
Anna Karenina
ANNA MAGDALENA
Annabelle
Annabelle: Creation
L' ANNÉE DERNIÈRE À MARIENBAD
Anni felici
Annie
ANNIE LEIBOVITZ: LIFE THROUGH A LENS
THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY
AÑO BISIESTO
UN AÑO SIN AMOR
Anomalisa
ANONYMA
Anonymous
ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE
ANOTHER YEAR
THE ANT BULLY (DE MIERENMEPPER)
Ant Man
ANTARCTICA, A TICKET TO ETERNITY
Antboy
Antboy en de wraak van de rode furie
ANTICHRIST
ANTITRUST
ANTON
ANTONIA
ANTÔNIA
Ants on a Shrimp
ANTZ
ANUBIS & HET PAD DER ZEVEN ZONDEN
ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
ANY WAY THE WIND BLOWS
ANYTHING ELSE
ANYWHERE BUT HOME
Apa
APAN
THE APARTMENT
Apenstreken
Apocalypse Now
APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX
APOCALYPTO
APOLLO 13
Apollo 18
L' Apollonide — Souvenirs de la maison close
THE APOSTLE
DIE APOTHEKERIN
APP — de film
APPALOOSA
L' APPARTEMENT
L' APPÂT
DE APPEL (SIB)
LES APPRENTIS
APRÈS L'AMOUR
APRÈS LA VIE
Après mai
APRILE
APT PUPIL
APU-TRILOGIE
AQUAMARINE
Aquarius
Arabian Nights (As mil e uma noites)
Araf
Arbitrage
THE ARBOR
LA ARDILLA ROJA
ARE WE DONE YET?
Area 51
Argo
THE ARISTOCRATS
DE ARISTOKATTEN
ARLINGTON ROAD
ARMADILLO
ARMAGEDDON
Army of One
ARO TOLBUKHIN. EN LA MENTE DEL ASESINO
AROUND THE BEND
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Arrietty
Arrival
The Art of Happiness
THE ART OF WAR
ARTEMISIA
ARTHUR
ARTHUR 3: DE STRIJD TUSSEN TWEE WERELDEN
ARTHUR AND THE MINIMOYS
ARTHUR EN DE WRAAK VAN MALTHAZARD
The Artist
Artist of Fasting (IFFR Deep Focus Adachi Masao)
As Above So Below
AS GOOD AS IT GETS
As I Lay Dying
As I Open My Eyes
AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
DE AS VAN PHOENIX
Ascent
ASH WEDNESDAY
Ashes
ASHES OF TIME REDUX
ASK THE DUST
THE ASSASSIN (John Badham)
The Assassin (Nie Yinniang)
Assassin's Creed
ASSASSIN(S)
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON
ASSASSINS
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13
ASSEPOESTER EN DE KEUKENPRINS
ASSHAK, TALES FROM THE SAHARA
THE ASSOCIATE
ASTERIX & DE VIKINGEN
Asterix & Obelix 3D: De Romeinse lusthof
Asterix & Obelix bij de Britten
ASTÉRIX & OBÉLIX: MISSION CLÉOPÂTRE
ASTERIX AUX JEUX OLYMPIQUES
ASTERIX EN OBELIX TEGEN CAESAR
ASTRO BOY
THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE
At Any Price
AT FIRST SIGHT
AT THE END OF DAYBREAK
ATANARJUAT, THE FAST RUNNER
Atlantic.
ATLANTIS (Digna Sinke)
ATLANTIS (Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise)
ATM
Atmen
Atomic Blonde
ATONEMENT
Attack on Titan: The Movie (deel 1) en Attack on Titan: End of the World (deel 2)
ATTENBERG
Attila Marcel
AU PETIT MARGUERY
L' AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE
AUDITION
Auf der anderen Seite
Auf einmal
AUF WIEDERSEHEN AMERIKA
AUGUST RUSH
AUGUST: A MOMENT BEFORE THE ERUPTION
August: Osage County
EL AURA
AURORA
Austerlitz
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER
AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME
AUSTRALIA
AUTO FOCUS
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NICOLAE CEAUSESCU
AUTUMN BALL
AUTUMN GOLD
AUTUMN IN NEW YORK
AUTUMN MOON
AVALON
Avant l'hiver
AVATAR
AVENGE BUT ONE OF MY TWO EYES
THE AVENGERS (Jeremiah Chechik)
The Avengers (Joss Whedon)
The Avengers: Age Of Ultron
L' avenir
AVETIK
THE AVIATOR
DE AVONTUREN VAN HET MOLLETJE 1
DE AVONTUREN VAN PINOKKIO
The Awakening
AWAY FROM HER
AWAY WE GO
AWAY WITH WORDS
AYURVEDA — ART OF BEING
AZULOSCUROCASINEGRO
AZUR & ASMAR