Poetry is banished from every- day life and despised for its non- lucrative, unpractical nature; and, even more outrageously, it is appropriated to exalt the kitsch nature of those things codified as ‘beautiful’ in our society of the spectacle. Although it is very likely that without it our way to inhabit this world would be brutally indolent and almost inhuman, poetry is a ghostly genre, an endangered species.
The River (Bank) That Becomes Abysmal is an accurate poetical essay on the work of Argentinean poet Juan Laurentino Ortiz (1896-1978), better known as Juanele. Fontán chooses the road less travelled by and translates a verbal experience into images; that is, he transfigures poetical lines into filmic shots.
“Perhaps revolution is what mankind has been delaying for years —the need for true leisure, which allows to watch, day after day, wild flowers as they grow.” This is the starting point, a deceitfully naïve sentence which will be materialized by Fontán shot after shot until the end of the film. The idea is to truly purge the viewer’s glance from the indiscreet saturation of an audiovisual mass publicity which makes it impossible to truly see. Thus, Fontán’s camera becomes a borrowed set of eyes which allows to see a world; our world, Juanele’s world, a world inhabited by cats, leaves, storms, rain, rivers, the sky, men who fish and sail on their boats through the haze, all of them seen as if they were emerging right from Ortiz’s rhyming verses.
Fontán chooses a gradual defamiliarization in his register: medium and open shots of nature lose their clarity through a double formal operation; first, blurring the forms of nature so they lose all edges; then, with slow fades which juxtapose images until achieving sublimity when the sky is reflected on a river and overlapping shots transform nature into art.
Philosopher Oscar del Barco has suggested Juanele’s poetry is a true theophany and Fontán seems to perceive this in the encounter of poetic language and the world. Juanele is the littoral, he is the river. And to swim in it almost becomes a physiological imperative.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=348j1Sz1MrU

Credits

Production Company: TERCERA ORILLA e INCAA, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales | Script: גוסטבו פונטאן, חואן לאורנטימו אורטיז | Cast: unknown