Lorenzo Vigas’ first feature film From Afar (original title: Desde Allá) won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and screened at this month’s Festival du nouveau cinéma.
Armando (Alfredo Castro) is a single middle-aged man who makes dentures for a living. During his free time, he either observes young tough men in the poor neighbourhoods of Caracas and lures them into his home with money or stalks an older man around the city.
An altercation with his sister about the return of their father in town shows a different side of Armando who can’t seem to forget the past and the pain their father has inflicted upon them. Could the man he is stalking be his father? If he is, he has a new life and a young family.
When Armando convinces street thug Elder (Luis Silva) to follow him home, Elder robs and beats him. Desperately in need of money, Elder keeps visiting Armando who welcomes him into his life. As they spend more time together and Elder discovers what it’s like to be taken care of, feelings start to develop.
The implicit theme of the film seems to be the lack of father-son relationships, seeing as how both characters grew up with absent fathers. A lack of a paternal figure in a child’s life often leads to troublesome behaviour. Elder’s violent temperament slowly dissolves while by Armando’s side. But when the teenager shows affection, he is pushed back and ostracized by his homophobic surroundings.
Vigas presents a psychological drama with implicit themes without ever focusing on anything in particular. The ending is extremely shocking and will leave you speechless, wondering what Armando’s true intentions were.
From Afar premiered in Montreal during the Festival du nouveau cinéma.