Eye For Film >> Movies >> Surfaces (2020) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Colombian-Argentinian filmmaker Cristina Motta returns to the subject of the "disappeared" - something she also considered in her previous short Into Thin Air. In an essayistic voice-over that largely plays over footage of rural and urban waste ground, she asks us to consider those buried in unmarked graves, spaces "that subvert the fate of the dead".
Her observations are strong and effective, as she considers some of the people bodies are found despite the attempts to hide them - as well as those who have lost loved ones and are unable to claim their bodies back even though they know where they are. The number of those who disappeared in Argentina and Colombia is breathtakingly large (the National Center for Historical Memory estimates 82,998 Colombians where disappeared between 1958 and, while at least 30,000 disappeared in Argentina's Dirty War) but Motta doesn't evoke statistics, instead keeping her focus on the small and the personal - the man whose body was tossed into the rubbish, another victim's body still under a pile of rubble so deep her mother has been told she's impossible to reach.
Motta's ruminations on this loss and horror, of people denied the normal rituals of death are supported by Alejandra Tokatlian's strong but subtle score. The film could easily be longer, which would allow for more factual elements to be introduced but as a consideration of the disappeared and their "refusal to be vanquished", it thrums with grief underpinned by a strong sense of justice denied to those left behind.Reviewed on: 15 Apr 2021