A droll and mystifying journey to Rotterdam
by Boyd van Hoeij
04/02/2011 - If the name of the Spanish Tiger Competition entry at this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), Finisterrae, sounds ever so slightly esoteric, then it offers at least a good indication of the contents of Catalan actor-curator Sergio Caballero’s directorial debut.
In many ways, Finisterrae is a road movie, about two Russian-speaking ghosts (apparently they only recently became ghosts) who travel to Santiago de Compostela and then to the titular end of the world. The two ghosts have no names and look exactly the same, with both portrayed by actors wearing simple white sheets with two black ovals for eyes, as if they’d been drawn by a child.
The two consult the oracle of Garel, which is an explicit reference to French director Philippe Garrel. His The Inner Scar from 1972 was a major inspiration for this film.
As the two ghosts and their (sometime real, sometimes fake) horse amble through the countryside, they happen upon weird people and things that are often absurd, including a presentation of Catalan video art from the 1980s involving animal cruelty during a cooking show that is shown inside a hollow tree (“very funny, but terrible clothes!” one of the ghosts drily comments).
Two things keep the audience interested throughout Finisterrae, the droll and unexpected sense of humour and the beautiful images of cinematographer Eduard Grau, who not only shot Tom Ford’s beautiful A Single Man but also the narratively similar Catalan film Honor de Cavalleria [trailer] from Albert Serra.
The film grew out of Caballero’s work as a co-director of the Barcelona-based Sonar Festival for Advanced Music and Multimedia Art, and fits right into Rotterdam’s reputation as a festival that showcases avant-garde films.