La Sirga DVD Review
things, first: I'm a huge fan of independent cinema, world cinema, and
house fare. It's where a lot of the most originality and creativity in
world comes from, so to speak. I thoroughly enjoy the fact that many
have worked to tell stories that are distinct, unique, and engrossing
something different from the all the rest. Yet originality's actually
always a good indicator of quality storytelling.
explore it's story, characters, and storytelling in a unique way. It
with the same class of distinctiveness that defines some of the best
world cinema and art films made with an independent flair. Why
is that so? Because distinctiveness
and originality can be found in spades in La
Sirga. However, does it succeed as a film? Absolutely not. This is
the worst world-cinema independent films I have ever seen and I would
it at all.
film centers upon Alicia (Joghis Seudin Arias) and her attempt to
with life with serious circumstances standing in her way of true
was a victim of war who lost a family and home with armed conflicts
problems she now resides within: as the film unfolds it's focus is on
being in a new environment, trying to start over for herself, while
living in La Sirga, and specifically aside the watery
shores of highland lakes, in a cold, harsher, unwelcoming environment
to many. As the film unfolds, audiences are introduced to her only
relative, her Uncle Oscar (Julio Cesar Roble), his wife, and
his son. Within La Sirga they run a hotel
which is in dire need of repairs. Over the course of the film, Alicia
helping with the hotel improvements, and she meets a young man who
boyfriend. The course of the story revolves around what will happen to
in her journey, what might happen to her boyfriend, and what will
the hotel and the people living there. That resides the main focus of
film's plot-line storytelling.
problem with this film is that it doesn't really know a good way to
whatever it is actually trying to
convey. The setting: bleak, abysmal, depressing, and icily cold. It's
conveyed by writer/director William Vega. But who are these characters?
production does a bad job of doing anything effectively in regards to
Alicia deals in spiritually complicated matters of her own, one might
because of her solitude. However, we don't get to know her character
as there's very little dialogue.
for the rest of the characters? They are entirely unlikeable, with the
exception of Alicia's boyfriend. Everyone else seems to just be taking
advantage of her from start to end of the film. The storytelling
much room to get to know the characters, and what we see isn't
will convey much else.
the biggest problem with the film may simply be that it doesn't know
convey anything that it is attempting to convey to audiences, beyond
concept that poverty is harsh, cruel, and terrible -- and that war is
say this partly because I watched this effort largely confused and
what was going on story-wise, as most of the film is simply lengthy,
of characters walking around, sitting, doing little things that are
non-essentials to telling a story in an interesting way.
was the whole point of the film to convey that war and poverty is bad?
glance, probably. However, according to the director's notes included
release (and the long making-of documentary) there was a lot of effort
convey a sense of the land with classic myths, legends, and stories of
land. The film wanted to bring a sense of conveying these elements of
in Vega's story. Well, it all passed over me while watching the film.
people unfamiliar with Columbian history wouldn't in fact understand
those artistically sound concepts as conveyed in the film.
to be blunt about my feelings on the filmmaking, it felt as though
writer/director Vega and cinematographer Sofia Oggioni Hatty were more
concerned with focusing on the landscape of the environment and how to
photograph these moments than with telling any other story. It also
though they don't understand how to craft compelling characters.
people can be bad in war situations, that war is terrible, and that
harsh and unnecessary. However, as Vega has constructed it, the exact
could have been conveyed with a five minute short. Alas, it's something
a major oversight. Vega was basically just trying to re-tell a
story from what he did as a 14 minute short film (also included on this
release), that similarly to La Sirga
feels overlong and unable to properly convey everything it wants to.
are barely developed and I didn't understand these myths or legends or
that apparently were part of the intended effect. Frankly,
the film was massively boring. I don't enjoy films comprised almost
entirely of landscape shots. I got sick of seemingly endless framing
showcasing the vast emptiness of the landscape with nothing else moving
the story. The cold environmental element conveys a
point, but it essentially managed to put me to sleep at the same time.
seems to be smart and with an incredible knowledge of Columbia
but the film
doesn't work the way he wants it to.
by Film Movement with a 1.85:1 transfer preserving the original
exhibition ratio. The anamorphic widescreen transfer is decent enough,
unimpressive color depth, abundant grain, and murky shadow details, the
has a cold atmospheric quality that isn't going to amaze anyone but is
preserving the look conveyed as intended by cinematographer Sofia
film includes standard 2.0 and
5.1 surround sound offerings, but frankly, both sound unspectacular.
design hardly utilizes the surround activity at all. It's basically
2.0 audio at best, with a little added ambiance. La
almost feels like it's a
experimental silent film at times with how minimalistic the sound
design is. I
wasn't that impressed by this aspect of the sound design or the quality
of it's presentation. Dialogue is soft but easy
enough to understand, though the film hardly uses any dialogue.
Movement continues to include a
monthly short film. This release contains the short film Simiente,
directed by William Vega (La Sirga), which was the
basis for the feature-length. It's basic
approach is identical and just like the full-length film it feels
there is also a
making-of documentary (which is not even mentioned on the case). The
documentary runs around an hour and features behind-the-scenes footage
interviews. Some of the comments shared in the documentary made me
as though the film is something that wasn't able to present all of the
writer/director Vega had. These core concepts explored through the
simply weren't felt with the actual feature-film.
simultaneously manages to convey
some of its concepts well and some (as indicated by the
writer/director) are not
properly conveyed at all with the production. While some art-house fans
appreciate the movie, I found it to be overly simplistic, long, boring,
creatively incapable of telling it's basic story. It demonstrated the
artistic voice of Vega but the
filmmaking just wasn't good enough for a full length feature (nor for
minute long short film highlighted on the release).
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.