Decalogue of an Ordinary Citizen

in 48th Valladolid International Film Festival

by Joan Millaret

The three Spanish entries in the official section of the 48th Valladolid International Film Festival have garnered no laurels; only “Astronautas”, the Sevillian Santi Amadeo’s first feature film has drawn some attention. This young producer has grown cinematographically with director Alberto Rodrigues; together they signed a couple of shorts and a first feature, “El factor pilgrim” (2000). Although each of them has now gone his own way – Santi Amadeo with “Astronautas” and Alberto Rodrigues with “El traje” – they maintain a close friendship. Santi Amadeo has worked on the script of Alberto Rodriguez’s film, and they share the technical team (cinematographer Alex Catalan and editor J. Manuel G. Monzano) as well as some supporting roles (Alex O. Dugherty and Jöns Pappilla) and the pop band Lavadora, in charge of their respective sound tracks. These new, unequal works can nevertheless contribute to the development of a promissing Andalusian cinema with other new directors: Benito Zambrano with “Solas” (2000), Cesar Martinez Herrada with “Cuando todo este en orden” (2002) or Chiqui Carabanto with “Carlos Contra El Mundo” (2002).

The crazy and unintelligible beginning of “Astronautas” may provoke absolute rejection, and its originality and unpredictability may confuse the audience; Santi Amadeo’s film is a free and unconventional work which attracts a great deal of attention because of its abundant use of pop aesthetics, television advertising, the comics, and music from the 60’s and the 70’s.

“Astronautas” tells in the comic mode the story of the odd detoxification process of a heroïn addict, and of his uneven fight to overcome the obstacles to his unlikely rehabilitation. In order to achieve it, the bewildered protagonist has planned a singular strategy consisting of ten points (washing himself daily, preparing nice meals, doing his shopping…) directed at his integration within a society which looks on him as a strange and dysfunctional character.

The fullfilment of this particular decalogue will depend on the help of a girl who enters his life by chance. Together, they will try to put into practice a manual of normal life. As new characters enter the scene and several revealing data about his past are brought to light, the crasy and irrevelant comedy of the beginning aquires a more bittersweet texture.

“Astraunotas” can be considered a reflexion about what we take as “normal” without really questionning ourselves on the meaning of the term.