Entre perro y lobo

Irene Gutiérrez
Cuba, Spain 2020

25.02.2020 19:00 Eng. subtitles CinemaxX 3
27.02.2020 19:00 Eng. subtitles Cubix 9
28.02.2020 16:00 Eng. subtitles Delphi Filmpalast
29.02.2020 15:00 Eng. subtitles Werkstattkino@silent green

75 min. Spanish.

Three men in uniform, somewhere in the Cuban jungle, are simulating a mission in Angola. From the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, Cuban troops supported the MPLA, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola. The three veterans practice battle manoeuvres with the machete, or smear themselves with mud as camouflage, and then head deeper and deeper into the dense fauna – with the viewer never knowing exactly where they are headed or why. They have orders, we hear, they have to continue the struggle, to be revolutionaries forever, we hear many times. One of the men begins to doubt the sense of the whole thing, another’s leg slowly rots away, traumatic memories are shared. Entre perro y lobo tells the story of a prolonged revolutionary struggle that isn’t one, of men who just keep on going and only very gradually reach a point where they start asking questions. The rain, fog and dew, the leaves, grasses and branches surround and engulf the three. All of their revolutionary morale-boosting slogans die away in the indifference of nature, which is uninterested in questions of meaning. (ab)

Irene Gutiérrez was born in Ceuta, Spain. She completed a bachelor's degree in Documentary Cinema at the International Film School of San Antonio de los Baños in Cuba, and a master's degree in Art & Cinema Studies. In 2014 and 2017 Gutierrez participated in the Berlinale Talents. She is currently a doctoral student at the Charles III University of Madrid. Entre perro y lobo is her second feature-length film.

Rituals of brotherhood

The sentence, “War is bad,” is not new, but the premise, “War is bad but it’s the only thing that make us feel alive,” is a strong paradox. The Cuban intervention in the Angolan Civil War was not only decisive in ending the longest civil war in Africa, but also in the liberation of Namibia and the abolition of apartheid. Our protagonists, along with 380,000 Cuban internationalist combatants, spent three years there, bringing the ideals and the military techniques of the revolution to this African country.
Even today in Cuba there is still always a battle to fight, an enemy to struggle against: “Always in Combat”, “Motherland or Death," but what do these slogans mean today? What happens now with those men who fought for these ideals when they were younger? Is it possible to cope with the fact that today so many difficulties of the past go unacknowledged and that the homeland, even history itself, has forgotten these men because they are no longer needed? Maybe that is why, lucid in their feelings of abandonment, Estebita, Miguel and Alberto exile themselves in their daily training, outside of time and space, in a place where every day they feel they are still worthy, acute, strong and, above all, spiritually young. A ritual of brotherhood that keeps them alive.

The methodical use of time
To capture this borderline condition, I implemented a methodology focused on the use of time as key to revelations: time to research, time to shoot, and the time each shot takes up. Since our main purpose was not to make a film about the subjects, but rather with them, access and time were essential. Once we were immersed in making this ‘jungle movie’, the manner in which the men’s training sessions had to be recorded or the cinematic approach that helped us visualise their post-war trauma were issues we worked on together. In this way, performative form between fiction and documentary revealed itself to be the perfect technique for exploring this history. The shooting schedule, the physical fatigue and the landscape as a detonating element for war memories, made up the rest. It meant not necessarily making a political film, but rather to politicise the cinema itself; to merge method, form and content in order to go beyond archetypes, symbols, slogans, the historical and even the political with the aim of building a film that shows us the most sublime condition of the human being, the most pure and necessary essence: resistance.
This is how we can explore, engage, address and deal with this complex topic. I hope this film-catharsis will lead these men into an intimate process of collective therapy, bringing closure to a historical chapter of their lives, or at least serve as a document that is able to discern the historical contradictions from the voice of thousands of anonymous heroes who are still alive and who were ready to sacrifice the best years of their lives in a distant and foreign war. (Irene Gutiérrez)

Production Viana González, José Alayón, Marina Alberti. Production companies Autonauta Films (Havanna, Cuba), El Viaje Films (Teneriffa, Spain). Director Irene Gutiérrez. Written by Irene Gutiérrez, Lisanda López Fabé. Cinematography José Alayón. Editing Cristóbal Fernández. Music Cristóbal Fernández, Rafael de Jesús Ramírez, Oscar Moreno. Sound design Carlos E. García. Sound Alfonso Fontela. Costumes Helena Girón. Assistant director Alejandro Alonso. Production managers Viana González, Marina Alberti. Co-producers Carlos E. García, María Alejandra Mosquera. Co-production Blond Indian Films. With Miguel Soto, Alberto Santana, Juan Bautista López.

World sales Bendita Film Sales

Films

2012: Diarios de frontera / Border Diaries (25 min.). 2014: Hotel nueva isla (71 min.). 2019: Diarios del exilio / Exile Diaries (43 min.).

Photo: © José Alayón