Living There Is Not Hell, It Is the Fire of the Desert. The Plenitude of Life That Stayed There Like a Tree
Vivir allí no es el infierno, es el fuego del desierto. La plenitud de la vida, que quedó ahí como un arból
- Javiera Véliz Fajardo
- 58 min
- Bárbara Pestan (Pocilga)
The town of Totoral is a like a mirage, a Brigadoon in the middle of the desert. A few residents, too old to leave, defy the wind in order to care for trees and goats. Living There… is above all a film about this wind, the master architect of Totoral. In long detailed shots, the film observes the wind’s infinitesimal workings on the landscape. These immense shots, which manipulate distances splendidly ( far-away subjects, sounds heard deep in the ear), first remind us the extent to which new HD cameras have reinvented the spectacle of life’s motion. But Javiera Véliz Fajardo does not make do with the cosmic euphoria of detail, which sometimes gives the impression of a lavish mock-up come to life – as in the burlesque and Sisyphean picture of a Lilliputian shepherd taunted by his goat in the middle of the dunes. After all, what can realism do in the face of a mirage? In response, Living There… proposes a plastic invention that unexpectedly revisits Méliès. The presence-absence of Totoral becomes a strict formal device with extremely slow crossfades that dissolve the landscapes into each other and create unwarranted visions. The effect is all the more splendid as we would swear that it is under the powerful spell of the wind itself that the shots slide over the surface of the film. Not the least of the graceful aspects of Living There… is that it invents its own genre – something like: the psychedelic observational documentary.
Born in 1986, in Copiapó, Chile, Javiera Véliz Fajardo studied art and then cinema. In 2009 she founded Pocilga Productions with Bárbara Pestan. In 2013 she studied in EICTV (International School of Film and TV), Cuba. In 2015 she studied a Master’s in Direction of Photography at Escac, Spain. Living There Isn’t Hell… is her first documentary as a director.