Film: “El Sitio de los sitios” (Dominican Republic)

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[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Here is a review of El Sitio de los sitios [Site of Sites], a 61-minute documentary by directors Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada, Dominican Republic: “‘Site of Sites’ offers personal view of Caribbean resort.” The film will play the second-ever Neighboring Scenes festival in a co-presentation by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Cinema Tropical. Site of Sites was screened on Saturday, January 28. John Soltes (Hollywood SOAPBOX) writes:

Site of Sites (El Sitio de los Sitios), from directors Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada, is a slow-moving, yet still transfixing documentary that depicts life on a tucked-away beach in the Caribbean. The one-hour film is simply made and lacks a traditional narrative arc, but within these scenes is an unspoken reality about humans’ connection to nature and beauty. [. . .]

The beach-set film follows a host of characters as they live a day in the paradisiacal setting of a Caribbean resort. A group of men move sand around for the tourists to enjoy an artificial beach. A young woman lounges at the pool and takes in some rays of sun. Workers clean the pristine houses in the area. Two men try to sink a hole-in-one at the local golf course.

That’s it.

Cabral and Estrada move from one scene to the next, constantly circling back on these small stories. They never move the camera, which is both risky and welcomed. When they want to move closer to the subject or the action, they make a simple cut. There are no panning shots, no tightening of the focus. These scenes are presented as mere tableaux, begging the viewer to connect the dots and see something deeper about class, race and privilege.

[. . .] Cabral and Estrada never pass judgment or dig deeper into their subjects. They simply present, and their only editorialization is the choice in which people they follow for this one-hour film.

Some viewers will undoubtedly be put off by the simplicity and lack of traditional storytelling; however, for the more adventurous viewers, those who enjoy something different in their documentaries, there’s much to appreciate in the reality and intimacy of the film. At points, it’s almost baffling how much access these directors are able to achieve, and yet their cinematic actions are always unobtrusive and never augment the action. They are flies on the wall.

For full review, see http://www.hollywoodsoapbox.com/?p=16476

See movie trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2IDgBTM5rk

For more information, see movie webpage at http://faulafilms.com/en/el-sitio-de-los-sitios

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