Gabriel Velázquez's Iceberg docks in Rotterdam
by Boyd van Hoeij
Six years after the Dutch port city showed his Sud Express [+see also:
film profile], Spanish director Gabriel Velázquez returned to the International Film Festival Rotterdam(IFFR) for his latest feature, Iceberg.
The film, shot in the Salamanca region that was one of its backers, looks at four young teenagers who are all struggling with their own problems. Though it is winter and it’s not particularly warm, all are searchingr some kind of absolution outside town in the solitary woods near an ice-cold stream.
13-year-old Mauri (Jesús Nieto) feels lost after his father has died in a violent car accident that is shown in just a couple of enigmatic shots in the film’s wordless opening. The accident has left the boy with a giant scar on the back of his head.
Rebecca (Carolina Morocho), who’s a year younger than Mauri, tries to survive during her first year in a Catholic boarding school for girls, which comes with its own kind of pressures.
Two older adolescent boys, Jota (Víctor García) and Simón (Juanma Sevillano), hang out in a small boathouse near the river and occasionally venture into a fish farm to steal live salmon for dinner.
The stories of the four protagonists occasionally intersect but even in these moments, the film often prefers meaningful glances and non-verbal cues to actual dialogue. That said, the meaning of the initially perhaps surprising title quickly becomes clear: all four have hidden depths underneath the surface. The winter setting is a further explanation of the title.
The film was written by Velázquez and Blanco Torres and impressively leaves any kind of adult presence off-screen, letting the youngsters face the enormity of adulthood and the world on their own.
The film was produced by the director’s outfit, Escorado Producción.