Dystopia or Present

in 25th Sofia International Film Festival

by Dimitar Kabaivanov

Of all the films in the selection of 25 Sofia IFF, Brazilian director Iuli Gerbase‘s film The Pink Cloud (A Nuvem Rosa, 2021) corresponds most closely to the situation in the world today. He is presenting us with a rather threatening version of the NEW REALITY, which is beginning to be imposed on us, not so much by the circumstances, but by the institutions (those of the State, albeit behind the medical mask of taking care of YOUR health). And this is felt especially in the eastern part of the EU. The combination of a pandemic and isolation is a stress factor that is quickly enters our daily lives and this causes shock, provokes anger and looks for an outlet. Fear, feelings of helplessness, lack of perspective are gripping more and more people.

We see all of this in Iuli Gerbase’s film The Pink Cloud in a clean and minimized form reduced to two individuals, Man and Woman (Giovana and Yago). Having met at a party on the eve of the fateful appearance of The Pink Cloud, they are forced by the imposed circumstances to reformat their incidental sexual relationship into a complex coexistence that lasts for years. An unexpected and stressful situation for both of them, which radically changes their lives. The approach (changing over time) is different for the two. Iago manages to create his own utopia, which satisfies him to some extent, while Giovanna most of the time has the feeling that she is trapped not only physically, but also – indeed mainly – psychologically. At the same time, the rather claustrophobic atmosphere of the apartment is enhanced by the urban gray of the buildings seen through the windows. And all this is flooded by a constant pink light as a tonality.

There is another interesting detail that is characteristic of our time. The channels for communication between people today are the smartphone and television. And in isolation, their role grows and takes up even more space and time in everyday life. The world outside (behind the window, behind the TV screen and on the smartphone) is as limited as the walls of the apartment in which they live. That is why the conflicts between the two are constant (albeit of varying intensity). There are moments of rapprochement (the birth of the child, its immunizations and injections, the celebration of birthdays). The child grows, the years pass, the joint dinners and conversations are repeated, role-playing games of acquaintance and flirtation are tried.

But the conflicts erupt again, too. They divide the apartment (a penthouse) into territories, and also split their time with the child – for 3 days each. Here again, the role of the telephone as a main link for flirting and virtual sex with an acquaintance of Iago’s is growing. Giovanna tries to flirt with a random man from the opposite window of a neighboring building (striptease and masturbation), and her friend, who is alone and uses antidepressants, describes her as lucky. They reunite as a family for the sake of the child, come to terms with boredom and inertia, as well as their problems, but Giovanna continues to pine for the world outside. The virtual reality glasses donated for her 40th birthday also turned out to be just a temporary drug and escape from the surrounding environment. She travels the world with them, goes to the beach, and gradually, this reality becomes the main one for her and she has no desire to get out of it! And this goes on until the moment when it becomes an occasion for another scandal and the glasses are broken.

The only moment of hope, when it rains and in the morning the clouds turn green for a while and then reacquire their normal white colour, only to turn pink again soon, only intensifies the tension. The problem of the uncertain future, not only for them, but also for the grown-up child, begins to burden the heroine’s mind more and more. And so it goes on until the moment when she decides to GET OUT of the situation and chooses the freedom of death. The debut of Iuli Gerbase, who is also the screenwriter of the film, really impresses with the way he builds before us this microcosm of the smallest cell of society, in which all the fears and problems of our time are concentrated. And it sounds really prophetic – the script is from 2017, and the shooting began in 2019.

Dimitar Kabaivanov
Edited by Savina Petkova