Trees are everything. In a settlement near the Russian-Finnish border, a traditional family keeps shamanistic rituals alive. The children play in the same forest where photos nailed to trees remind us of Stalin’s bloody repression. Spirituality and politics meet in this intuitive montage of poetic impressions, historical material, nature shots, family scenes and probing testimony.
Alternating between the enchantment of a child’s gaze and critical essay, this is the first of a two-part series dedicated to Karelia. The traumatic history of this region, which once belonged to Sweden, still resounds. The father points to the massacre by Ivan the Terrible in 1570. A gnarled block of wood is reminiscent of Pan, god of nature, and panic. But there’s also the long arm of Putin. The daughter of a historian, an activist who investigated mass graves for 20 years, describes how her father was arrested on the basis of a shady accusation.
The work of this Caracas-born Spanish filmmaker lies just on the periphery of non-fiction and is strongly documentary and essayistic in nature. His first film, Ivan Z, is a portrait of filmmaker Iván Zulueta. En 2011 his first feature Color perro que huye premiered at Rotterdam. In 2013 he received the City of Barcelona Award for his film Ensayo final para utopía. His most recent films Oleg y las raras artes and Carelia: internacional con monumento premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.