Slamdance Film Festival 2020: Close Quarters (Territorio)
The Slamdance Film Festival runs Jan. 24–30 in Park City at the Treasure Mountain Inn. Here, find featurettes about Slamdance 2020 films. Go to slamdance.com for more info and SLUGMag.com for more fest coverage!
Close Quarters (Territorio)
Director: Andrés Clariond Rangel
North American Premiere
If you’re seeking a dark, psychological/erotic thriller at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival, see director Andrés Clariond Rangel’s Close Quarters (called Territorio in Spanish). Close Quarters is a narrative feature that deconstructs tropes of masculinity—in Mexican society, no less—and instills a gripping sense of unease. Starring José Pescina (Carmin Tropical), Paulina Gaitán and Jorge Jiménez (each from Narcos), the performances of the film’s leads may well elicit your pity while your eyes are glued to the screen.
Close Quarters’ premise is that spouses Manuel (Pescina) and Lupe (Gaitán) are unsuccessfully trying to have a baby. Rubén (Jiménez) starts working under Manuel at his job, looking to earn some quick cash so he may cross the border into the U.S. The two become fast friends and work out some deals to help the other with what they’re each trying to achieve. Rubén gets closer to the lead couple, yet the two men act increasingly aggressive toward each other. Primal and societal conceptions of manhood come to the fore—with Lupe navigating through these masculine forces all the while.
“The story unveils the obsessions and worries of men,” Clariond Rangel says. “It questions what it means to be a man. Manuel is the more sensitive type, and Rubén is the macho. [Close Quarters] is the clash of these two forms of being a man in a time when there’s a lot of confusion. On one hand, young men are educated to be more sensitive, but at the same time, culture and society push them to keep being machos: Boys don´t cry and cannot open up to emotions.”
With this dichotomy, Pescina finesses Manuel’s neurotic behavior as tensions rise, and Jiménez exudes formidable callousness as Rubén. Clariond Rangel endeavored to cultivate the perfect environment to coax compelling peformances from his actors. “We rented an Airbnb and rehearsed there for two weeks,” Clariond Rangel says. “I like an acting style based on containment, especially [with] subjects like the one we addressed in [Close Quarters] that could easily cross [into] melodrama land. I always ask the actors to choose the minimal gesture over the full emotion.”
What’s more, Close Quarters’ lighting design inflects the film’s emotional atmosphere with a sense of despondence. “The DP and I decided to avoid, the most we could, direct sources of light,” Clariond Rangel says. “We wanted a look that could give a sense of melancholy. I wanted a camera that captured every emotion without calling attention to itself. We used the steady cam in scenes at the beginning and handheld camera at the end in more chaotic and dramatic scenes.” Clariond Rangel is an experienced filmmaker—his first full-length film is 2014’s Hilda, which is based on a play of the same name. You can witness the breadth of Clariond Rangel’s and his cast’s skill in Close Quarters. –Alexander Ortega