FIPRESCI Warsaw Critics Project Review: X500

By Alexandra Gabrižová

    WARSAW: Following his feature debut La Playa, director Juan Andrés Arango explores the topics of immigration, inhospitable environments and mental changes in his latest documentary-style drama X500, which screened in competition at the 32nd Warsaw Film Festival following its premiere at Toronto.

    The film shifts back and forth between the stories of three main characters who have never met, but have very similar fates, in different towns across the American continent. Maria, who has relocated from Manila, has to leave a new school in Montreal after an incident leads to a bottle being smashed on her enemy’s head. Alex tries to set up a new life as a responsible Colombian fisherman, but has his plans interfered with by a criminal gang. David has joined his cousin in Mexico City after his father’s death, but when he is robbed he is faced with an unconcerned reaction: “It is your fault.” This line is typical of all three of the teenagers’ states. They emerge as uprooted individuals without any close relatives; as immigrants in new countries.

    The director visually demonstrates loneliness and the separation of the main characters throughout the whole film. We follow David on his way from a hometown, as he walks alone in contrast to a crowd of villagers. Initially, he seems one who stands “against the flow”. In the case of all three characters their physical appearances (non-conformist clothes, hair, and a need to mark and sign their bodies with tattoos) sets them against their new environment. Nicolas Canniccioni holds them trapped in close frames, precisely observed. Their active effort to not be part of the mass actually forms them into an other (though subcultural) mass. Final resolutions of homecoming follow their way back to a natural environment, which will possibly never be natural again.

    Set in three different places, the production of X500 took almost three years. The director works with first-time actors and unknown locations in order to achieve the highest possible authenticity. Actual locations, such as a real punk club frequented by the poorer classes, were scouted. A small camera allowed a realistic, unobtrusively observational air.
    The film was produced by companies Peripheria, Septima Films and Machette.

    Director, screenwriter – Juan Andrés Arango
    DoP – Nicolas Canniccioni
    editor – Felipe Guerrero

    Last modified on 12-10-2016