A documentary which is, above all, a familial, tragicomic melodrama, breaks the conventions of realist cinema and works in the tradition of the Latin American telenovela, depicting the crises that befell the family of the director. The inciting incident is a telephone call informing Lourdes Portillo that her uncle Oscar Ruiz Almeida has been killed by a bullet to the head. Her aunt says it was suicide, others say it was an assassination. Lourdes listens intently to all the gossip and undertakes her own investigation. While she hunts for clues, her family’s secrets are slowly unveiled, and the history of Mexico emerges. “Each devil has their devil,” says the director. With a forty-year-long career and more than a dozen films, she approaches regional problems of social, political and cultural justice with an intensely personal commitment and style—revealing that making films can be a powerful light against forces of injustice.
EavesdropperDirected by Mercedes Gaviria Jaramillo.
Colombia, 2020, DCP, color, 16 min.
Spanish with English subtitles.
DCP source: Invasión Cine
Eavesdropper is a film packed with silences and sounds. The outside world emerges to separate the public from the intimate. Secrets are only suggested, and speaking voices utter truths that remain unfinished but clearly understood. Following The Calm After the Storm (2020), the young Colombian director and sound designer Mercedes Gaviria Jaramillo enters the vast world of sound in this essay-film. She recounts, “Recently I read Pauline Oliveros’ book Deep Listening, where she says that silence is the space between two sounds. Silence means we are unable to hear any sound at all.” In Eavesdropper, the filmmaker reveals that flowers are akin to stealthy witnesses (or spies), and that they can hear human voices and have access to our lives; this major revelation not only stuns us into silence, but also acknowledges the many silent voices we hear in inanimate forms, such as paintings.
Since 2016, Mercedes Gaviria Jaramillo has been a professor of film production at the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires. She received the Acoustical Society of America Best Sound Award for her work on Albertina Carri's Las hijas del fuego (2018). In 2018 she pursued a postgraduate degree in film at Universidad Torcuato di Tella. The Calm After the Storm (Visions du Réel, 2020) was her first feature film.