Long time collaborating Chilean directors Bettina Perut and Ivan Osnovikoff bring an fresh approach in the form of an art house film to the global documentary scene with their new piece Los Reyes. (KIZJ: 3.5/5)
Review by FF2 Contributing Editor Katusha Jin
With 2 awards and 7 nominations already under its belt, Los Reyes throws aside the conventional approach to a documentary and instead follows “Football” and “Chola”, a pair of black street dogs, as they guard and observe the happenings around Santiago’s oldest skate park.
Back in 2009, Perut gifted Osnovikoff a skateboard, encouraging him to revisit his old hobby. Years later, after weekly skating at Los Reyes skate park, the idea of following the skateboarding youth for their next film came about. Despite its conventional form of their film at the time, Perut was dissatisfied with the style and overall emptiness of the conversations they had captured. It was during this moment of uncertainty about the future of their project that the directors met Football and Chola. What started off as a portrait of the skateboarders of the park had become an intimate microcosmic observation of the park from the unusual perspective of two best-pal dogs.
Now, under the guise of a film about two dogs, the directors are able to subtly bring to the audience all the hidden stories of the youth. Unbeknownst to the audience, whilst the visuals are portraying different close-ups of unusual angles of the park, what we hear are the broken families and struggles of the younger generation as they are faced with various conflicts with the older members of the family, and are forced to enter the inevitable next stage of adulthood.
The sound design by Janis Grossmann and Superhearo was of a very high standard, and their work was mixed with great care by Roberto Espinoza and Sonamos. The directors also doubled as editors on the project, and together with Pablo Valdés, who gracefully framed the work with an art film feeling, they curated an intimately endearing visual style.
I see Los Reyes as a very unusual approach because upon my first viewing, it felt as though an album of portrait photographs were put together into a film with carefully pieced together high quality audiobook-style recordings of conversations. My visual and audio worlds were very separate, which took me into dream-like trance.
Perut and Osnovikoff spent 10 months filming the dogs and turned the project into a true investigation of the park from the dogs’ perspectives. Their perspective provides a fly-on-the-wall style of observation of the skate park visitors. Thanks to this non-intrusive format, the audience is able to listen closely into the stories of the youth that are usually completely lost on those from different socioeconomic backgrounds and age groups.
The film is not one that actively tackles and questions big problems, instead, it is an acute observation of the world that surrounds the skate park. We do not passively learn from it, but are given the opportunity to actively draw our own conclusions. Although not for your average Joe, Los Reyes is a piece that would definitely be of interest to those who frequent the theaters for art house films.
© Katusha Jin (14 August 2019) FF2 Media
Photo Credits: Grasshopper Film
Featured Photo: Football and Chola.
Center Photo: Los Reyes skate park.
Bottom Photo: Football chewing on an empty cola can.
Q: Does Los Reyes pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?
No. It isn’t very clear, but I don’t think I heard any female voice talking to another female.