Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dust- Review of a film by Julio.H.Cordon

Guatemala is a country that has been torn by civil war that had lasted nearly 4 decades ending in 1996. The median age of the country is 20 years. Yes, 20 years. Hundreds of  thousands of people from the opposition, rebel group URNG and the Mayans were tortured or subject to "forced disappearance" or "scorched-earth warfare" in the rural areas. The civil war has thus left behind a nation that is largely orphaned & traumatized for life.

The story of Dust is themed around Juan, a travelling missionary singer in his village , whose father disappeared during the civil war. But the search by Juan and his mother, Delfina continues and Juan is troubled by dark visions of torture and death at night. Juan had attempted suicide a number of times but refused to talk about them when interviewed by an urban  couple ,Ignacio & Alejandra, for their documentary film on missing people. Ignacio & his father too had faced torture at the hands of the military with his father getting arrested but who was later released; an indicator of their influences, maybe. In the village, Juan thinks that his bus-driver neighbor had snitched on his father and harbors a desire to talk to him , to ask him whether its true and thus follows him constantly , dirties his bus with poo and messes around with his son. Instead the bus-driver ,one day, thrashes Juan out of his wits. Juan sensing opportunity takes his revenge by killing his son and setting fire to the bus by setting up a situation. Juan is then seen moving over to the highlands with his mother & family to set up a new home while Igancio's & Alejandra's  film-making is cancelled. The movie then ends abruptly.

One is not sure what prompted the movie maker , Julio Henandez Cordon , to write a screen-play that is as hazy as its casual .Where the characters are neither sketched out nor do they assume any sort of responsible relevance to the drama. Of course, there would be an underlying fear for not making overt political statements in a country such as his but that does not necessarily stop a director from sketching out his own drama. Its almost as if the movie had no boundaries. Characters & scenes just came in and out or stayed behind. Who among the audience really cared at the end of it  ? The movie is shot in DCP and the light was the darkest that I saw in this few days. But some of the long-shots of the grasslands and terrains were shot with a steady hand and looked enticing as the characters moved into or out of the frame. Overall, watching Dust wasn't necessarily a good  way to end this festival. But so be it.

JAS rating : 2 out of 10

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