Three must-see documentaries about beauty and ugliness

Nov. 27, 2017

What is beautiful and what is ugly in modern society is a question that serves as one of the main premises for the directors of these three documentaries that make up a varied triptych about the dichotomy that moves art from its beginnings.

 

The house is black by Forugh Farrokzad (1963) 

 

 

As soon as The House is Black starts, we hear a lapidary phrase: "The world is full of ugliness. There would still be more if the human being looked away". Warned of the type of images that we are going to see, the film then reveals the scene of a group of Iranian children who suffer from leprosy during a class at the school in the leprosarium where they are being held. In the following minutes of this short film, we only see the quotidian daily life of the inhabitants of the leprosarium, whose disease has damaged the figure of their faces and limbs. Refused to ignore a reality that otherwise could be classified as horrifying, the magnificent Iranian filmmaker Forugh Farrokzad makes a poetic essay on the suffering of these people isolated from the outside world, for which a subjective ugliness has become normal. To fight against this ugliness and achieve the right to beauty are the main motivations of the director for the creation of this jewel of the documentary.

 

Bello Bello Bello! by Pili Alvarez (2013)

 

 

When the doors of the National Gallery of Havana are closed and the great halls are left in the shadows, the echo of a particular conversation travels among the paintings that now seem lonely. While the landscapes, abstractions and figures of the works pass before our eyes, we hear a dialogue that comes from outside the screen. In a tropical Cuban accent, we listen to humorous yet passionate comments emanating from invisible art enthusiasts that interpret each painting we see, as if it was the unforgettable voice of a commentator of a football match. The difference is that here they do not narrate facts, but rather free thoughts that try to grasp the strokes of the painter of the work. As festival jewel, this short film directed by Spanish director Pili Alvarez takes us on a witty and exciting journey through beauty and ugliness that remind us of the subjectivity and magic with which each person judges them.

 

Reinas by Ana Endara Mislov (2014)

 

 

This documentary delves into the navel of a continent obsessed with beauty pageants. In Panama, like many other countries in Latin America, a queen is elected to represent with her beauty not only a city or a town, but also a primary school or even a public ministry. The Panamanian director Ana Endara Mislov portrays the phenomenon of the celebration of physical beauty from an immersive approach, in which the participants of these contests tell their own experience within the carnivalesque world that surrounds them. The images, however, navigate between dissimilar sensations, being sometimes endearing and other disturbing. The film makes us feel complicit in the wishes of the participants – either children or young women - to become the chosen ones, but it also makes us wonder if some change is needed in the way that West measures the beauty of a human being.

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