For the second year in a row, Venezuelan cinema is representing in one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. With his debut film La Soledad, director Jorge Thielen Armand has been selected as part of the Venice Film Festival’s Biennale College – Cinema, a lab dedicated exclusively to the promotion of first- and second-time directors.
The film employs a hybrid style that mixes documentary, fiction, and experimental cinema to tell the story of a young man squatting in a decaying mansion that is flagged for demolition. As he sets out to secure a place to live for his wife, daughter, and grandmother, the young man pursues a legendary stash of gold supposedly hidden away in the walls of the grand old house.
Even with this fantastical dramatic flair, La Soledad’s documentary grounding is strong and each actor plays a slightly fictional version of themselves, with the exception of the grandmother Rosina, who is actually played by her eldest daughter. The trailer showcases the film’s textured, naturalistic cinematography contrasting with a highly expressionistic sound design in which the sounds of nature clash violently with the screeches and grinding chugs of the city.
The non-professional actors also seem perfectly comfortable playing altered versions of themselves in front of Thielen’s camera, while lead actor José Dolores López captivates with the bashful innocence of his gaze. Overall, La Soledad seems to be another powerful contribution to Venezuela’s growing filmography that follows on the heels of the country’s recent Oscar submission Desde Allá (From Afar), which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival last year.