Director Henry Disotuar is a talent to watch!
- LA MANZANA is written and directed by Henry Disotuar, based on his own experiences growing up in Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in the island. The vivid and realistic story-telling is undoubtedly auto-biographical. Disotuar’s film lacks any artifice, seeing this film is almost like opening a window into his childhood memories. Disotuar is a young filmmaker at 24 years of age, and he already possesses a narrative and technical skill that older peers of his would like to dominate. His eye, while striving for realism, knows how to embellish without distorting the reality of Cuba, bathing the screen in a warm color palette with hints of gold that provide the film with a feel of nostalgia. Credit also has to go to Disotuar’s DP Ruben Appeltans for creating such a striking and gorgeous look which captures the beauty of the streets of Havana. Disotuar’s framing and composition provides us with striking images such as Danilo’s school’s structure resembling cubes and the striking opening sequence which moves 360 degrees around a lover’s quarrel in the middle of the street. LA MANZANA is Disotuar’s graduation project, and he couldn’t have chosen a more challenging film to test himself. Not only does Disotuar had to return to his country (since, like Danilo, he moved to Belgium as a child) and deal with bureaucracy and obtain elusive shooting permits, but he had to direct children as well. The child performers are fantastic and never feel like they are acting for the cameras, the obvious stand-out is Alexander Guerrero Machado, who shows immense range as a child with a lot of quiet anger and feelings of uncertainty, while also being wise and aware beyond his years. In its 28 minutes runtime, LA MANZANA becomes an evocative child-hood story about leaving behind everything you know and the fears that come with such a transformative event. Such moments as Danilo and his Mother’s farewell as they see his grandmother wave goodbye to them perhaps for the last time ever, become a powerful moment of pure cinema that is rarely seen in short-films. This is a striking story with amazing visuals. Disotuar and team are talents to look out for in future projects.
Enrrico Wood Lagonigro.