Androids Dream


Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten

Ion de Sosa: "We chose Benidorm because the architecture seemed very good for us"
"There is little within the film that is obviously futuristic, but you do not need special effects to represent the future - a depressing dystopia is already being lived."

One of the central films in the D'A Festival's (Im)Possible Futures strand, Androids Dream (Sueñan Los Androides) unfolds in an unsettlingly empty Benidorm in 2052, where the peseta has returned but Spain still remains in a stagnant stasis. In amongst the coastal town's ageing population, a mysterious man (Manolo Marín) is hunting and killing people in what initially seems a random fashion - the only point of connection between the victims is that some of them know each other, and they are all considerably younger than the holiday destination's other residents.

It is up to the audience to piece together the little information we are given, but the nod to Philip K. Dick in the film's title obviously alludes to the killer being a blade runner and his victims as androids. One starting point for the film was a line from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner - when Deckard tells Rachel that what she thinks are her memories are actually implanted and probably belong to the engineer who made her - which set director Ion de Sosa to wondering about an android implanted with his own memories.

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The result is what the director has tagged 'sci-fi castiza', that is to say a science fiction imbued with 'genuine' Spanishness - the final thoughts of the dying androids (their lives flashing before their eyes) are represented by the director's own archive of home movie footage set to a soundtrack of traditional Spanish songs such as Manuel Vallejo's El Huerfanito (The Orphan), which 'humanises' the victims and makes their passing elegiac. That we find out more personal information about the victims - both in these final moments and the comical conversations between the young couple (Marta Bassols and Coque Sánchez) and their friend (Moisés Richart) - makes them our points of identification rather than the man chasing them down (whose motives remain obscure).

The younger characters all work in the kinds of insecure service jobs - cleaning hotels, dancing in clubs - that the tourism industry generates. Skyscrapers always have a futuristic quality, but tourism makes Benidorm a space apart from reality - a zone outside of people's everyday lives - and the opening sequence of a series of shots of different parts of the town makes it look like a model, further heightening the air of unreality. Likewise, the framing and colour palette of the 16mm in which the film is shot recall both the scenic slides in the old View-Master toys and printed holiday snaps - although the abandoned spaces through which the camera passes emphasise melancholy over holiday fun.

These empty spaces - buildings abandoned part way through construction or left eerily uninhabited by occupants long-since gone - are one way in which Androids Dream also functions as an allegory for modern Spain. The construction industry has ground to a halt - lending an air of impermanence to the unfinished projects and the surrounding areas - and high unemployment has caused the younger generation to leave the country in droves. Older generations remain, alongside those stuck in the precarious and unstable forms of employment that exist to serve them (represented by the androids). There is little within the film that is obviously futuristic, but you do not need special effects to represent the future - a depressing dystopia is already being lived.

An experimental and dream-like interpretation of the kind of science fiction that usually has big budgets and flashy explosions, but here creates humanity out of unreality and imagery that lingers in the mind for its originality and haunting quality. Go see it for yourself if you get the chance.

Reviewed on: 04 May 2015
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Androids Dream packshot
Benidorm, 2052.

Director: Ion De Sosa

Writer: Ion de Sosa, Jorge Gil Munarriz, Chema García Ibarra

Starring: Manolo Marín, Moisés Richart, Marta Bassols, Coque Sánchez, Margot Sánchez, Óscar de la Huerga, César Velasco, Begoña Alarcón, Eva Swoboda, Begoña Jiménez Velasco, Pilar López Cepeda, Harold Delgado, Ahmed Rizwan, Hermina Ruiz, Antonia del Río

Year: 2014

Runtime: 67 minutes

Country: Germany, Spain

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