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Víctor Blanes Picó

The social cinema located in the African continent but realized from the western look always poses diverse problems of representation. With the social and cultural differences that prevail, it is difficult to abstract from the ethnicist will of the portrait and compose a story that highlights the humanist above the condescending. Emmanuel Gras presents in the Semaine de la Critique a film that faces these problems. In Makala, a young coal miner with dreams and hopes to build a better life travels to the city to sell his merchandise. The film is presented as a documentary that accompanies the character from the creation of charcoal through the traditional carboneras amidst the silence and tranquility of the Congolese countryside until its sale in the bustling bustle of the city. Between one space and another, the journey. The young man loads on his bicycle as many sacks as he can to drag the weathered cycle down dirt roads. This superhuman effort occupies much of the footage.

The biggest obstacle that Makala finds is his imbalance in the narrative and the discursive consequences that it entails. Gras builds a non-fiction piece that wants to support his expressiveness in the beauty of the image. This kind of passion that faces the young carbonero, with its dangers and calvaries, is shown from a luminous preciosismo that takes advantage of the different shades of the African sunlight to approa ...

The social cinema located in the African continent but realized from the western look always poses diverse problems of representation. With the social and cultural differences that prevail, it is difficult to abstract from the ethnicist will of the portrait and compose a story that highlights the humanist above the condescending. Emmanuel Gras presents in the Semaine de la Critique a film that faces these problems. In Makala, a young coal miner with dreams and hopes to build a better life travels to the city to sell his merchandise. The film is presented as a documentary that accompanies the character from the creation of charcoal through the traditional carboneras amidst the silence and tranquility of the Congolese countryside until its sale in the bustling bustle of the city. Between one space and another, the journey. The young man loads on his bicycle as many sacks as he can to drag the weathered cycle down dirt roads. This superhuman effort occupies much of the footage.

The biggest obstacle that Makala finds is his imbalance in the narrative and the discursive consequences that it entails. Gras builds a non-fiction piece that wants to support his expressiveness in the beauty of the image. This kind of passion that faces the young carbonero, with its dangers and calvaries, is shown from a luminous preciosismo that takes advantage of the different shades of the African sunlight to approach the suffering and the effort that the company carries. The work of photography is truly exceptional, but it is in the elongation of this transit and the repetition of the powerful images that it finds when the film becomes an exercise of continuous underlining on the unfortunate conditions of life of a man who simply needs to work for a living and take care of his family. With the excessive accompaniment of a music designed to deepen the drama, the discourse becomes a simple and stylized denunciation that masks the documentary with a kind of patina of fiction, which creates just the opposite effect: by means of a reincidente staging in the same visual poetic vision emerges the feeling of artificial and tricky representation in search of complacency and grief. Gras is claimed as an image seeker, as an observer who strives to capture the perfect light to achieve the maximum anchor of visual expressiveness, but it is in the construction of his speech when the device falters and becomes more evident his condescending, which is revealed once again in the treatment of the final religious scene.

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