Chile, 81 min
The first image is reminiscent of a black-and-white postcard, similar to those found in flea markets: we see Valparaiso, Chile’s second city and a renowned port on the Pacific Ocean. The image tightens, the eye moves closer, elements are revealed. A long building becomes the central figure: an abandoned site, retaining the traces of a past life. A step backwards and we’re introduced to the subject: Cristóbal Vicente offers a unique incursion into Valparaiso Prison during its final year of operation, after 150 years of existence. With dignity and without judgement, he observes the day-to-day activities of the protagonists in a microcosm cut off from the world, yet full of life, gestures and sound. We are plunged into the hubbub of the corridors, the daily walk in the outer courtyard, football matches, anodyne discussions between companions in misfortune, visits from wives and children. We observe this masculine world, like a neorealist painting reminiscent of Rossellini’s style, grasped through the benevolent power of the cinematographical act.