It is quite a challenge to choose one’s own family as the theme of one’s first feature documentary. Nevertheless this is what Carlo Guillermo Proto (1979) did with ”El Huaso”, a film that demonstrates a strong visual competence to convey the story of a father, who has decided to commit suicide if he, like his own father, gets alzheimer. He does not want to be a burden to his family.
Carlo, the son, the filmmaker, follows his father on his journey to the doctor, to the psychologist, and back to Chile, his home country, where his horse riding apparently makes him a free and happy man away from the depression that makes him suffer in Toronto… where he also is a happy grandfather when he plays and talks with his lovely grandson.
It is tense, it has a fiction feel in many staged scenes, and especially one brings memory of Ingmar Bergman: The whole family placed in a couch, including the protagonist, the father, discussing the good and bad sides, the right and wrong, about his eventual decision to take his life! There the director, also in the couch, reaches the point where you as a viewer feel uncomfortable to watch. Gives you a painful impression. Like when you watch the Swedish master.
Talent is needed to make a private story personal and universal. Here it is done beautifully.
Canada/Chile, 2011, 80 mins.
Seen at DOCSBarcelona 2012