Review: Mudar la piel
by Alfonso Rivera
- LOCARNO 2018: This documentary by Ana Schulz and Cristobal Fernandez investigates a friendship steeped in mystery, passing through a variety of genres in the process
The first feature film by Ana Schulz (a photographer born in Hamburg in 1979) and Cristobal Fernandez (Madrid, 1980, lecturer in film studies, musician, and editor of works including The Inner Jungle [+see also:
interview: Juan Barrero
film profile], The Sea Stares At Us From Afar [+see also:
interview: Manuel Muñoz Rivas
film profile] and Mimosas [+see also:
interview: Oliver Laxe
film profile]), which was shot over a period of four years, has at last been unveiled at the Locarno Film Festival, an event renowned for its penchant for all things alternative: Mudar la piel [+see also:
film profile] is a documentary, but it also falls within the genre of investigative thriller as of its opening scene (which is fully descriptive and filmed in a cable-car travelling over Madrid, suspended from a cord, accompanied by piano music and voiced by multiple narrators), a spirit which it maintains throughout, until the film’s surprising denouement. And as if this weren’t enough, the duo also make room for a portrait of the love that is felt between parent and child, for a historical reconstruction of this love, and for a subtle yet moving celebration of this bond.
Schulz’s father is Juan Gutiérrez, a mediator who worked to resolve armed conflicts in the 1980s and 90s when terrorist group ETA turned the Basque Country into a battlefield. During these years, he formed a friendship with Roberto Florez, an elusive and inscrutable individual whose personality has much in common with the Spanish-language title of Schulz and Fernandez’s film (which translates as shedding one’s skin/changing).
Schulz has always harboured a deep fascination for this murky character, and she was especially eager to understand the basis of the everlasting, cast-iron friendship that he forged with her father. Her burning need to know is the driving force behind this documentary and, for this purpose, the co-directors take on the role of spies, emulating the man on whom their investigation is focused. Meanwhile, the film is transformed into a game of mirrors and, through an unavoidably infectious process, will likewise end up “shedding its skin”.
Shadows and suspicions of betrayal, a healthy dose of life experience, the deep love and admiration felt by Schulz towards her father, graphic documentation of a highly tumultuous past, and skilful editing which keeps the audience enthralled throughout: all these ingredients combine to create a surprising, impassioned and thrilling film, which unearths one of the most unbelievable, undiscovered stories in the History of the complex, contradictory and fascinating Spanish nation.
Written by Schulz, and also edited by the director in league with co-director Fernandez, and with the post-production collaboration of Mauro Herce (Dead Slow Ahead [+see also:
interview: Mauro Herce
film profile]), Mudar la piel was produced by Sr. y Sra. and Labyrinth Films, with the support of the ICAA, the Basque Government, the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival - where it won the 2017 MECAS Award (see our article) - and the EITB. It is due to be released in cinemas across Spain in October, courtesy of Márgenes Distribución.
(Translated from Spanish)
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