VLAFF: Mesmerizing Pacha flickers between realms
In Héctor Ferreiro’s Pacha, the membrane separating reality from dreamtime dissolves, and we're never entirely sure where we are. What makes this especially potent is the setting: La Paz, Bolivia, in 2003, when a popular uprising sent President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada—aka “Goni the Gringo”— into exile. But not before 60 people died in clashes with the military.
We see all this through the eyes of Tito, a homeless shoeshine boy who can’t hold on to his shoes or his box. Obscured for almost the entire film by a green balaclava, and often enveloped in tear gas as gunfire crackles around him, he’s a tiny, painfully vulnerable witness to history.
A kind encounter with a decrepit, insect-eating vagrant seems to send Tito into another realm, where a trickster earth mother walks with him along ancient Inca pathways, all sharply photographed inside the alien desert landscape of the Andean plateau.
The point? Explicit anti-Imperialism aside, Ferreiro depicts tyranny even at the poorest levels of society. When a peasant kid’s soccer ball is enough to turn a protestor into an ad hoc despot, the importance of Tito’s excursion out of the material world and into “the infinite”, as Pacha has it, becomes clear. Not to mention mesmerizing.
Pacha screens at the SFU Harbour Centre on Sunday (September 1) at 2:45 p.m. and at the Cinematheque on Saturday (September 7) at 7:15 p.m.