By Tristen Calderon, Contributing Writer
Dominque Dubosc’s “Paraguay Remembered” is, plain and simply, beautiful. The film opens mysteriously and enticingly with shots floating down a river past different flora and fauna. Dubosc’s French narration is heard and the viewer is immediately pulled into the bright and clear quality of his intonation and his precision with a camera. The audience is taken through the world as Dubosc sees it; accompanied by his intelligent voice and the occasional Latin tune, the film is masterfully poetic and charming in its exploration of Paraguay.
The Latin American filmmaker returns to his hometown of Asuncion after 40 years of traveling, educating and filmmaking. With a very intimate and personal perspective, Dominique’s voice as an artist is never disturbed or broken. The audience hangs on his every word and looks with intent at every shot he shows them. The film floats enchantingly between documentary and narrative. With an ambiguous but palpable purpose, visible and audible rhetoric, clear perspective of narrative and crucially, the documentation of real life, “Paraguay Remembered” forgets the unnecessary and returns to the essence of filmmaking and art as a whole.
Watching the film, one might try to force it into one category or another. Truthfully, this style of filmmaking is today profoundly absent. It recalls a time where a person with a camera and a vision can tell their own story while enlightening or remembering things to its audience. Still, no one speaks directly to the camera. The audience is only ever addressed by Dubosc; they are simultaneously passive observers and also, by fact of their observation, participating in the story, maintaining a paradoxically intimate distance.
His film becomes like a journal — a place to put his memories. It is not a place to prove to anyone or himself that these things happened, but to express what he’s been holding as a man and an artist. Throughout the film, Dubosc remembers the young woman he had fallen in love with years ago. He shows different local figures and likens the production of a film to the construction of a building, showing an admiration for all types of laborers. He discusses the local political structure and even returns to the origin of his film career. This reflection is useful for the individual, but the presentation of this reflection is the often-forgotten obligation of the artist, and one that was pleasantly addressed by Dubosc.
Without coming off as self-indulgent or pretentious, the artful use of color and music captures and redefines the atmosphere of Asuncion as both bright and melancholic. Although some historical and contextual pieces are missing for the average American viewer, Dubosc’s remembering beautifully embellishes the art of filmmaking with natural precision and a beautifully written and engaging narration.
The audience sees how film as both an outlet and an interest has helped and continues to help him grow, something film consistently does. This remarkably personal approach to film was refreshing and substantive in its strong execution. Its beauty truly does lie in the simple ambiguity.
Ultimately, there are many ways to see “Paraguay Remembered,” and many things to be seen within it, but it deserves to be seen and will undoubtedly be remembered.
Email Tristen Calderon at firstname.lastname@example.org.