The Spanish film Return to Hansala by Chus Gutierrez won the Golden Pyramid and also the Fipresci critics award at the Cairo Film Festival, captivating all the members of the jury with its skillfulness in speaking up for actual immigrant stories and for illustrating the politics of the countries that stay hidden, through a beautiful, warm, lively and very human story. Most of all, it succeeds through perfecting the essence of making us see the pain and sadness, to see the fate, to see the individual stories and to give the audience a truer image. As more and more immigrant problems are transforming into something else, into numbers, into laws, into political or social problems, into like this or like that, the consequences are in forgetting mostly the people in them and much more their personal problems.
This film by Chus Gutierrez captivates with its simplicity, with its sincerity and warmth, captivates with the power to talk about great human tragedies and not to forget about beautiful and clear emotions which somewhere are buried in each of us. In an extremely easy way she presents parallel worlds that are apparently quite different, but essentially are always in search of the same friendship, trust and love. Gutierrez uncovers worlds, the one with immigrants, settled up in the small Moroccan village of Hansala, and the other one on the Spanish coast, which for these people signify the promised land. In a very interesting way she speaks about the parallel worlds, about the worlds which live side by side and do not know each other at all. Mostly, she conveys the worlds that are seemingly quite different, but somewhere or half-way, recognize each other in their search for a small piece of happiness and fulfillment.
And in all that is peculiarity about this film, it comes out of the scheme and from the pitfall to talk about the problems of immigrants, about the prejudices, about the openness and closeness of the worlds and peoples, about the absurdity and injustices. Most of all, however, this film talks about the essence, about the world and the people in them. This film is returning us to Hansala as the symbol of the clearing, beauty, of the simplicity, as the symbol of one place that is seemingly out of civilization, but in fact is an undoubted part of it. In this place thrives different people, in this place thrives love, understanding, giving and in this place thrives support and fellowship. There, our travelers will find out that which is missing to them and to all of us. They will find out that which is forgotten, that piece we are all looking for in which to reach our wholeness.
Return to Hansala with its own immigrant theme, with tolerance and understanding between the nations, which in a special way pervades in individuals, perfectly harmonizes with the tendency of the festival to be the bridge for understanding and to contribute towards international communication. Gutierrez’s film has an authentic, archetypical beauty. In spite of tragedy it does not condemn, it dos not blame, does not criticize, just talks about the reality, such as it is. It records the destinies, needs and dreams, and through them talks about the nebulosity of our time. In point of fact, the film addresses strong critiques, but only through the note and through subtle observation of the world around us, through brave confrontation and with all that happens next to us which we do not like to see often. Therefore, this film, alongside the vivid, unpretentious dialogue, with its authenticity of cinematography and excellent casting, with the nonchalance and accepting with which to talk about great injustices – fateful and human – distinguishes itself as something extremely precious that the audience feels a long time after.
Edited by Steven Yates
© FIPRESCI 2008