Gabriel García Márquez’s writing has always felt like it’s imagining a world so unlike our own that it can’t help but look familiar. His magical realism stretched the notions of what storytelling could be, turning seemingly absurd tales into probing meditations on Latin American identity. It’s no surprise to find our own current situation, wherein we’re all encouraged to stay home to avoid a pandemic from spreading further, looking like something out of a Gabo novel. In fact, already his 1979-scripted film El año de la peste has emerged as a key text through which to understand what’s taking place worldwide.
Clearly finding in Gabo an apt interlocutor for our day-to-day lives, Venezuelan filmmaker Leonardo Aranguibel took it upon himself to create La peste del insomnio. The short film, which is based on One Hundred Years of Solitude, hopes to remind viewers not just of García Márquez’s gifts for dreaming up otherworldly tales grounded in a plausible reality (in this case, an insomnia pandemic sweeping the fictional town of Macondo) but of how art can work as a balm to help make sense of our lives.
“We are living a very difficult moment,” Aranguibel shared with Fundación de Gabo, “but it is up to us to make it be dawn sooner or later, so we wanted, in the midst of this confinement, to remember that the sun always rises again.” Boasting the involvement of Queen of the South‘s Alice Braga, Contracorriente‘s Manolo Cardona, Neruda‘s Luis Gnecco and even the OG “Ugly Betty,” Ana María Orozco — all of whom recorded their bits remotely — the short film is an evocative reminder of the power of García Márquez’s words to render what always feels like unimaginable circumstances all the more magical. Part performative reading and part poetic meditation on what happens when we have to live confined, La peste del insomnio is a haunting take on life under lockdown.
Watch the full short film below.