The films of Lisandro Alonso have finally landed in Seattle, thanks to a retrospective organized and presented by Northwest Film Forum, which is also distributing his most recenty feature, Liverpool, in the U.S. In addition to showing his four films, NWFF brought the director himself to introduce his films, answer questions, host a Master Class and even shoot a film with local Seattle talent. I wrote about Alonso for the Stranger website.
[Lisandro] Alonso’s films are about lone men, isolated by some combination of circumstance, choice, and temperament, and their movement through their landscapes. In La Libertad, it’s the logger in the forest (with a brief trip into a village hacked into the middle of the wilds). In Los Muertos (2004), it’s a man released from prison making his way up river to his village home and a reunion with his daughter (it could be either reconciliation or retribution, given the film’s uneasy tone). And in Fantasma (2006), the (non)actors from these two films go to see a screening of Los Muertos in a cinema so empty it’s unnerving.
Alonso doesn’t put them under a microscope; he’s more of a naturalist and these men the subjects of a fictional documentary, shot with a camera that hangs back to observe them in their natural habitat. But there’s also a tension in the way his camera studies spaces, arriving before his characters and lingering after they’ve left. It creates expectations that Alonso inevitably defies, and sometimes it creates mysteries that dig under the skin of the viewer, especially when things happen offscreen and are left for us to explain.
I also wrote a companion piece on Alonso for Parallax View here, and put together a page of links of essays, reviews, interviews and other resources also at Parallax View here.