Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"As gentle and as enjoyable as a sunny afternoon in the park , but perhaps as ephemeral."

Community, a sense of a belonging in a place, is a hard thing to achieve. As an individual, most recently, a text from a neighbour saying hello as they had seen me bundled up to battle inclement weather to cover a Glasgow film festival for the second time this month. As a film-maker, advantages in micro-, even non-budget techniques, here demonstrated improvisatory, guerilla style film-making. Definitely benefits in making one's setting the present day, the city in which one lives - no need for Monsters level technical intervention here - though a later transition in colour palette might be indicative of a state change, or a dream-sequence, or both. As a film, Angela creates a sense of place, time, but perhaps less so of protagonist.

Angela's perhaps too short, too light, too free from direct conflict to compare to Dredd, but I'm going to, because this is my review. Each creates a sense of place from small detail, sometimes surprisingly presented. A shot from a nook of one of the 155th street stations grants a tremendous perspective, our protagonist framed in the subterranean infrastructure of that metropolis. There's a tiny bit of movie/sports trivia too - of a sort - those are the nearest stations to the former site of New York's Polo Grounds, one that shelters in a hollow bordered by a ridge called Coogan's Bluff. There's a function of character as focus too - the camera might wheel and gyre and fumble close in crowds and bustle, but it's on Angela, around her, we are focussed. This is the immigrant experience in New York - one more than close to its cast and crew (both of them).

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Director Juan Pablo Daranas Molina's film is a collaboration with Idalmis Garcia. Her experiences, their experiences, inform a piece that's as gentle and as enjoyable as a sunny afternoon in the park , but perhaps as ephemeral. In Q&A a "free sense of filming" was created by the freedom of nothing but constraints - they "didn't have any budget", but good use of location creates a real sense of place - alright, it's not the hyper-constructed arch-reality of Mega-City One, but production design can be a lot easier if centuries of human endeavour have done it for you.

At Glasgow's 2018 Short Film Festival, Juan discussed in Q&A the process of film-making, how the film makes use of real community gatherings - though those others participating were aware they were being filmed, the nature of its fictive narrative was kept from them. Not out of any mal-intent, the story itself is effectively a process of discovery, and the act of happening upon communities and interacting with them is part of any life, even new ones in new places.

I mention Dredd for another reason though, which is character - Angela doesn't have some 40 years of continuity to draw from, but neither too does she change. Except perhaps I'm being unkind - but one film had foil, antagonist, arcs within and around an implacable protagonist. Angela doesn't, which makes it perhaps less of a story, perhaps less enjoyable. This is multicultural, multitalented, but not necessarily multifaceted. There's definitely variety - of activity, avenues for employment, religious practise, percussion, drug advice - but it's all really in service of one tone. It's still competently executed, but it's slight, a breezy set of summer's days. It begins, ends, but ultimately middles.

Reviewed on: 24 Mar 2018
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Angela packshot
A Cuban immigrant tries to find her place in New York City.

Director: Juan Pablo Daranas Molina

Writer: Juan Pablo Daranas Molina

Starring: Idalmis Garcia

Year: 2018

Runtime: 13 minutes

Country: US


GSFF 2018

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