Manuscript to the City

The filmmaker moves from Barcelona to Buenos Aires and begins filming her new city. However, after 8 months of doing so, the city remains a stranger through her lens.

The film ends with the filmmaker expressing dissatisfaction with what she captured, and I think that’s palpable throughout. It’s like the camera is not big enough for what she wants to capture, like she is seeing the city through a keyhole. There’s something about the frame that is almost claustrophobic.

Of course, the filmmaker is projecting her own experience, feeling as though the city is a stranger when it is her who is a stranger in the city. She finds all the people she shoots distant, but it is her shooting from a distance that has created that space. She is frustrated that she cannot capture a sense of engagement with the city, yet she is entirely absent from all but the final shot. Some shots feel so detached, you almost feel like the camera was just set up on a stand and left. It makes you realise that a filmmaker can make just as much of an impact by their absence as by their presence.

A project the filmmaker clearly only thinks of as a partial success, it still has something to tell us about the filmmaking experience, and the sense of detachment of being new to a city.