Peruvian filmmaker Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio L. has turned in a heartbreaking masterpiece for his first feature.
The Spanish-language drama features the relationship between 14-year-old Segundo (Junior Bejar) and his artisan father Noé (Amiel Cayo), who is a master at creating retablos (Peruvian story-boxes). Isolated in the rural mountains of Peru, father and son pass their time creating retablos of important families in the nearby city. The first ten minutes of this film are a study in mutual father-son love as both males hone their retablo craft.
It is the delivery of the retablos that hint at the film’s conflict. The son first notices his father getting carried away with the celebrations in town and coming home drunk. Next, the devoted son witnesses something that he can never forget while carting a retablo into town. Fractures within his close-knit family and society soon erupt and threaten to destabilize everything the boy knows.
The intricate artwork of the retablos and the insights into a Peruvian cultural tradition make this film worthy of seeing alone. The dynamic relationship between father and son artisans is at first affirming and somewhat unusual for dramas of late (especially those kinds of dramas that would feature at Inside Out). However, this relationship is going to need to weather some very turbulent storms. Thankfully, for a film of this type – just like Bicycle Thieves – you will come to care about father and son.
I am looking forward to Delgado-Aparicio L.’s next work.
Saturday, May 26, 9:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox