In collaboration with Open City Documentary Festival, Glasgow Shorts Film Festival welcomed Colombian filmmaker Laura Huertas Millán to screen three works that combine multiple modes of storytelling to explore film that intertwines documentary, anthropology and fiction. Focusing on La Libertad, jeny303 and Sol Negro, we see three very different but all equally intimate styles of filmmaking, telling fictional stories from the images shot. Stunning cinema, we get a sense and flavour of the richness of life in both Mexico and Columbia, through close ups and voyeuristic filming.
A triptych of poignant portraits, produced by Millán during a practice-based PhD between Beaux-Arts de Paris and Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, she subtly moves between the real and the unreal. Focusing on ideas around womanhood, Laura Huertas Millán challenges cinema and documentary in it’s function, manipulating the memoir to become the melodrama.
First on the screening list is La Libertad, which follows a group of matriarchal weavers in Mexico, mimicking the examination of an object through subtle shifts in scale and space, weaving a tale. Vibrant and voyeuristic, this film is intricate and beguiling, entrancing at times, and draws you in. Next on the list is jeny303, which was accidental in some respects. The filmmaker had accidently superimposed on the same 16mm film stock the architectural portrait of a university in Bogota and the portrait of Jenny, a transgender millennial talking about her heroin addiction, adding a whole different meaning to her original film.
Sol Negro, the final film, is highly intimate and personal. Antonia is a singer whose beauty is sombre. Recovering from a suicide attempt in rehab, her family ties are tragically broken, her sister clearly deeply affected by what happened. This film has layers of voyeurism beyond any of the others, making the audience feel a touch of discomfort in viewing, but this film is rich in content, if perhaps a little longer than it needs to be. But perhaps this adds to the discomfort, and allows the viewer to explore their own comfort levels.
Finished off with a Q&A with filmmaker, this was a beautifully niche event organised by the Glasgow Short Film Festival team. It was a wonderful space to explore this type of filmmaking.