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The Tree

International Premiere

Argentina | 65 MINUTES | Spanish |


The ecstasy of the ordinary is the subject of this filmic poem by Argentine writer-turned-filmmaker Gustavo Fontán. In a style that sometimes evokes the stubborn intensity of Chantal Akerman or the lyricism of a Bruce Baillie, and at other moments provides the shock of the real that Brakhage so regularly delivered, Gustavo Fontán turns documentation into exploration. His camera moves into his ancestral, century-old home-where his parents, María and Julio, still live - and takes up residence. Gnarled trees stand vigil at the front of the house. Inside, tea heats up on a stove; rain patters on a window pane. In the garden, light travels down a vine. Sounds rise and intrude; dark follows light. The slow pace of the passage of time is punctuated with conversations and comments, never explained and only sometimes intelligible. A conflict animates the house, between María's desire to cut down a dead tree and Julio's conviction that it still must be alive. Julio continues to water the tree, which he planted when one of their children was born, out of this belief. The film's thin narrative swells to fill the screen, as the days pass in the old homestead. The problem of the tree becomes a meditation on time, tradition, memory and the constant creation of meaning from the sensory symphony in which we are immersed.