100

English Title: 100

Original Title: Poniente

Country of Origin: Spain

Studio: Olmo Films, Amboto Audiovisual

Director: Chus Gutiérrez

Producer(s): Ana Huete , Iñaki Núñez

Screenplay: Chus Gutiérrez, (with the collaboration of Icíar Bollaín)

Cinematographer: Álvaro de Armiñan

Art Director: Víctor Molero

Editor: Fernando Pardo

Runtime: 95 minutes

Genre: IBERIAN DRAMA

Language: Spanish

Starring/Cast: José Coronado, Antonio Dechent, Cuca Escribano, Mariola Fuentes

Year: 2002

Volume: Spanish / Portuguese

Synopsis:
Lucía, a teacher currently living in Madrid, goes back to the place where she grew up: a small town of the western Andalusia called La Isla. Since she left, seven years ago, the situation has visibly changed. Nowadays, the industrial plastic greenhouses block out the landscape and give shelter to hundreds of workers of different nationalities. In view of this, the locals have got their new situation back on track and many of them have become businessmen and have gained, to all appearances, a ‘healthy’ footing. All this wealth is in contrast to the precarious working terms of the African immigrants, who are demanding more equitable salaries and regularized contracts of employment.
Lucía, who has borne the traumatic experience of the death one of her daughters (drowned), and the desertion of her husband, has, as usual in this small town, decided to remain in La Isla with her young daughter Clara. What started as a return trip for her father’s funeral changes into a situation of deciding to stay.  Miguel, her cousin, does not agree with Lucia’s decision to take charge of her father’s tomato farm as Miguel was in dispute over a matter of some pieces of land. In the midst of all this, Lucía meets Curro, an emigrant returning to his roots. Both are looking for somewhere to belong; their approach starts from the meeting and recognition of the other. They are both alone and, inevitably, they fall in love.


Critique:
Poniente (Westerly) focuses its story on a failed return to origins and on the archetype of the stranger. Chus Gutiérrez knows well what emigration is: she left her native Granada to go to live in Madrid, London and New York. The shooting of this film has also been for her the return to her land.
The film is closely related to what happened in El Ejido in 2000. Chus Gutiérrez takes these acts as a source of inspiration to tackle these problems in a more comprehensive way.
We are faced with a story of emigration but also of uprooting. The definition of what to be an immigrant means is ever-present in the film, due to the fact that all its characters, in one or another sense, are so. Lucía left her small town for the big city, and Curro was born in Switzerland of Spanish migrants. They all are taking part in a shared situation: that of being not only a stranger but also a child of uprooting; some of them being far from their countries, and others having failed in the attempt to regain their supposed lost identity. Lucía is not accepted by her family and Curro feels as much a stranger as he did in Switzerland.
This will be the link to underpin the other theme in the film: the historical memory. This, for some of us, is sensitive memory of a recent past when the emigrants were the Spaniards: those who left Spain with their cardboard suitcase. Curro and a friend look at black-and-white images of his father with the help of a Super 8 projector: images of an inner history to appeal to the audience's memory in order to properly visualize two similar and coinciding routes.
Racism prevails in everyday life – renting a home, work exploitation or in relationships with girls. Finally, this racism becomes worse, and violent, and just at this very moment, and as a sort of metaphor, the projector and the old, wrecked films appear as poignant contrast to all the havoc.
Poniente is, in addition, a history of wasted illusions where everybody loses: Miguel sets fire to his cousin’s greenhouses, killing his own son; Lucía loses all her crops; Curro almost dies when finding out what Miguel is attempting; the immigrants lose their work.
Through the saturation of the colours of some of the shots, this film seems to show an intercultural approach. Nevertheless, the camera does not focus there but in the reality of the non-understanding.

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Author of this review: Nekane Parejo