Laura Herrero Garvín, MX 2016, 73’
International Premiere
Tuesday August 9th, 11.00, Cinema Teatro Kursaal
Wednesday August 10th, 18.30, L'altra Sala

en / it / de / fr

“The water used to come up to here” says the old farmer as he points to the lower part of his leg. He goes on: “Then, it went up to here”, showing his knee, “Then to here”, showing his hips. “It became really serious when it reached this level”, he adds when his hand points to his chest. “Now, it goes as high as here” he concludes by touching his forehead. Intensive deforestation has led his home village of Remolino, in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, to become progressively flooded by the Usumacinta River. Laura Herrero Garvin shows moving portraits of some of the people living in this region that is deeply affected by the river – even in the individuals' relationship to nature or their gender roles.

Having shot the film herself, the director conjures up images that are both idyllic and deceiving, with mirror-like waters and tropical flora as well as colourful birds and butterflies. And yet, the situation could not be worse for the locals. Pedro, the farmer’s son, must cross his flooded corn field on a bark. At first glance, he looks like a strong young man, but a closer examination reveals his jewellery, his waxed eyebrows and his high-pitched voice.

Herrero Garvin has explored these isolated regions for over two years, observed their inhabitants, and given them a voice. What really makes Pedro happy is feeding his chicks and meeting up with the women of the village to put on make-up and chat. Although his parents had tried teaching him to behave according to social standards when he was a child, he still lives with them while his 11 siblings are all married. “Had my father allowed me to study, I wouldn't live here anymore” he says.

His sister Esther also complains about dropping out of school. In fact, as the owner of a plot of land, she does her best to ensure her daughter has access to the opportunities that had been taken from her – even though the latter would rather watch TV series than study math. Esther, who is a strong, charismatic woman, wants to control both her life and her image. That is why she saved for a whole year to buy a camera. Her takes are an integral part of the film.

El Remolino is a name that refers to a vortex. Water, both flowing and stagnant, is a metaphor for the life of these people, who must face uncontrollable natural phenomena, as well as a conservative social environment. “We're just like the river” says Pedro, “if the water stagnates, it starts to rot.”

Julia Marx