Huella

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Huella
"Ortega uses the power of suggestion to stoke the mood - the whispers of prayer, a sudden wind blowing up where it shouldn't, an unexpected voice at the end of the line."

Huella can mean a footprint or a fingerprint in Spanish - an echo of what was, like a flamenco clap in an empty room. It's these echoes Daniela (Shakira Barrera, who audiences are most likely to recognise as Yolanda from Glow) must come to terms with in this atmospheric short from actress-turned-writer/director Gabriela Ortega.

We can see the young woman has created a new life for herself in the US, a long way away from where her grandma (Denise Blasor) lies dying. She may find freedom through dance on the rooftop but her days are full of a different type of choreographed precision, speaking to callers about their travel insurance, no amount of yellow items in the corner where she works alleviating the gloom.

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After the death of her grandma, Daniela's world will collide with something from the past and something from the next as the emotional dance of grief embraces a more physical form of movement. Ortega uses the power of suggestion to stoke the mood - the whispers of prayer, a sudden wind blowing up where it shouldn't, an unexpected voice at the end of the line. Juan Covarrubias' music also slots neatly into place, offering a flavourful blend of traditional and modern that also reflects a passage from one mental space to another.

Given that Ortega invites us to step into the rhythms of grief with little explanation, intertitles marked "the curse", "the chain" and so forth seem a bit on the nose by comparison - as though the director found herself torn between leaving audiences to find their own way and signposting. But at 14 minutes Ortega manages to cover a lot of psychological ground in a tight little tale that invites you to soak up the mood rather than dwell on specifics in a way that makes you eager to see what she could do with a longer film.

Reviewed on: 13 Jan 2022
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The death of her grandmother sees a woman take an unexpected dance with grief.

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