All Tomorrow's Parties

in 16th Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema

by Jaime Pena

In his short story Todos los finales posibles (included in his book Europe), Luis López Carrasco features two scientists who are facing the end of the world. In a CERN-type center near the Arctic Circle they have developed a time machine. They discuss how far they want to travel: the age of the dinosaurs, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages… until one of the scientists, the Spanish one, suggests travelling forty-five years earlier, to the time he was born, only to witness people’s joy and enthusiasm at that time of the Spanish Transition, in the early years of Spanish democracy. Oddly, Luis López Carrasco has also travelled back in time to those years with his film The Future (El futuro).

López Carrasco acknowledges that when shooting his film he had in mind Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests or the Maysles Brothers’ Gimme Shelter. Let’s stay with Warhol, whose visit to Madrid in January 1983 became one of the social events of the time, confirming the Spanish capital as the city of modernity, the “Movida”, a party that seemed endless. It isn’t difficult to imagine the party that The Future shows as if it had been filmed by Warhol himself, “original” material that López Carrasco would have used to propose a devastating discourse on the last thirty years of Spanish history. Ultimately The Future wants to be just a fake: to shoot a fictional party as if it were a documentary, set at the end of 1982 or the beginning of 1983, right after the victory of the Labour Party in the elections of October of that year. You can feel the euphoria, the sense of a new time in the opening speech by Felipe González, leader of the Labour Party.

The Future travels to the past to speak of the present. From this point of view it’s like a science fiction movie, a conceptual proposal that connects with the work of Los Hijos group. López Carrasco belongs to that group and it seems very appropriate to watch their latest film, Trees (Árboles), as a complement or extension of The Future, his first solo film. Indeed, The Future wants to portray everything that we were promised and that did not materialise. Hence those simple city shots with the posters “for sale”, “real estate” and “notary” in dramatic succession linked with the apocalyptic verses of “Nuclear, sí”, Aviator Dro’s song, which we had previously heard as the musical illustration of a series of photographs of a not so distant past: the feigned joy of Franco’s dictatorship. López Carrasco’s loop does not deal with any party, but rather a late and horrible hangover.

As the film is shot in 16mm, in the style of the Spanish underground cinema of the 70s, it is tempting to suggest a remake of The Future using the very film clips of those years, reversing Luis López Carrasco’s idea. For the first part of The Future we might use Pedro Almodóvar’s characters and parties from Pepi, Luci, Bom (Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón, 1980) or Labyrinth of Passion (Laberinto de pasiones, 1982). For the second part, we could use Iván Zulueta’s Arrebato: the celluloid as irrefutable testimony of a time, a time and a place encapsulated in the frames of a 16mm film. We are in the path of Train of Shadows (Tren de sombras, José Luis Guerin, 1997) or Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966), the reason why López Carrasco searches among the frames trying to find an explanation for what followed, the evil seed of our present. As if, as happened in Arrebato, the camera that filmed the party had vamped the entire Spanish society.

Edited by Alison Frank