Guerín, José Luis

(1960- )
   Catalan director José Luis Guerín's Los motivos de Berta (Berta's Reasons, 1985), a Bressonian narrative about a girl whose playing days in the countryside are interrupted by the arrival of a film crew was immediately hailed by critics as one of the period's most artistically accomplished films, but distribution problems made it hard for audiences to respond. It is unlikely they would have in any case: the film revealed a talent for minimalism and a reluctance to follow the conventions of commercial film, tendencies that have never led to box-office success.
   In latter years, Guerín continued reflecting on and exploring the nature of film in a series of semi-documentaries and collage films that use experimental methods to challenge audience expectations. Innisfree (1990) was the director's personal tribute to John Ford's The Quiet Man, and documented a trip to the Irish village where the film was shot, trying to find traces and clues to Ford's artistry and personality. It was followed by the Pere Portabella-produced Tren de sombras (1996), a silent, plotless experimental essay that recycled primitive film footage and the home movies of a 1920s French photographer to test the limits between film and reality.
   Guerín's inventiveness again showed signs of fertility with En construcción (At Work, 2002), which used a documentary base to provide a moving (and frustrating) portrait of the effects of gentrification in a traditional Barcelona neighborhood. The film won a number of awards, including the FIPRESCI and the Great Prize of the Jury at the San Sebastian Film Festival, as well as the Goya as best documentary. En la ciudad de Silvia (In Silvia's City, 2007), an attempt at a more plotled narration, but still with little dialogue was less successful.
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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