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Canada, 2011, 78 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Family Issues, Latino, Medical/Health, Social Issues, Student
Program: DocumentaryLanguage: Spanish, English English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Carlo Guillermo Proto
Producer: Carlo Guillermo ProtoEditor: Ariel Escalante, Carlo Guillermo ProtoScreenwriter: Carlo Guillermo Proto, Gustavo Guillermo ProtoCinematographer: Carlos Ferrand, Carlo Guillermo Proto, Benjamin R. TaylorPrincipal Cast: Catarina Medeiros, Daniel Medeiros, Ana Gabriela Proto, Carlo Guillermo Proto
When filmmaker Carlo Guillermo Proto learned that his 58-year-old father, Gustavo, was pursuing medical treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, he began a journey to document this passage and its effect on his family. Gustavo immigrated to Canada from Chile to give his family a better life. But misery is written all over him, a lifelong affliction that has little to do with the cold, gray tones of a wintry Toronto. His mother’s death from Alzheimer’s haunts him, as does his father’s gruesome suicide. Gustavo has spoken often over the years about ending his own life, and the prospect of dementia seems to give him motivation to follow through on that threat. He says he doesn’t want to be a burden to his family, yet his ambivalence about life has burdened them for years. After several unproductive family arguments, Carlo finally confronts his father on a family trip to Chile, shifting the potential of terrible loss into a moment of intense courage and love.
A poetic, deeply felt film, El Huaso finds lightness in Gustavo’s close relationship with his grandson, and in a solo return to Chile. In part, this is a rehearsal for the family to experience living without him, but instead he rekindles old joys, specifically riding as a huaso, or cowboy, in a rodeo. The mere acts of touching and saddling the horse, and riding expertly—these things bring out Gustavo’s rare smiles.
This moving meditation on love and death was chosen for the 2012 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest. El Huaso was made with support in part from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s documentary channel.
- VAL MOSES
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