«Liebig» - Echoes From the Past

Sensitive and intelligent. Christian Ercolano’s documentary, Liebig, transport us to the past, leaving aside the grey nostalgia and using the main characters’ memory as a strong narrative resource.
"What was hiding behind that abandoned and dilapidated structure?” That was the starting question that began with the adventure of this documentary, around 2007. A grey town built from a corn beef factory, based in Entre Ríos in the beginning of the 20th century. In the 70’s, as many other companies, shuts its doors. "The original idea of the documentary was to tell through a collective industrial story, a state of remaining in a glorious past. The current and unaltered state of Liebig generated many questions”, Christian Ercolano comments. 

One of the strong points of the documentary is the choice of the statements and the characters that are presented on the screen. Ercolano manages to clearly outline and exploit his potential in order to achieve a pleasant script without artifices. "The most interesting thing we found in our research was Liebig settlers”, tells its director, and adds: "most of them were old people who worked in the factory and with great predisposition told us in an idyllic way what the town had been. In their words and look we could understand that part of them was still pinned to those happy memories”.

"The challenge we planned with the writers Gustavo Intrieri and German Loza was to choose the best elements to tell that passive state and do it visually and narratively attractive, while we decipher what had happened in that prosper town to end up in an almost ghostly one”. It is very interesting the point of view used to tell the stories of the settlers –nowadays, the town has less than 700 inhabitants- like a gigantic metaphor of an Argentina that, in some point, left small communities to their own luck.

In addition, in the film a positive nostalgia is achieved, departing from the look of the lives that were built from the "destruction” of their ordinariness around Liebig’s factory. When the time comes to explain technical difficulties, Christian Ercolano assures that "it was very important the sound registry of the testimonies, many times in a voice over, made by Santiago Crivelli”. And he adds that in the search of a level of truth "with Alejandro Reynoso, camera and DF, a new non invasive registry, nor controlled of the characters actions, but rigorous in its photographic registry was chosen.”

The result is a very deep film that reflects a conscientious research and sensitivity in the documentary observation handling. "The intention was to give it more naturalness to the testimonies used in the editing. Departing from formal, technical and narrative ideas, added to the historical research, we face many hours of very interesting material. All that post-production process took us almost two years and a half of work”, the director explains. 

At the time of talking about his teamwork, he highlights the work of his executive producers, Rodolfo Weisskirch and Nuria Arnaud, the editing of Juan Pablo Docampo and the post-production sound of Gino Gelsi in the creation of environments and space sounds. "The most complex in this instance was to give the choral structure and make the narration of the past illusion and inaction of the present interesting at the same time”, and adds "we departed from the idea of telling it through the voices of the characters. Even though it was a rigorous and exhaustive work we knew that a voice over of an extradiegetic narrator was against everything we wanted to do”. This is why they altered from "the glorious past, told by sequences of photographic and filmic editing, and the nostalgic passivity of the present, and in that way make the narration flow thought the eyes of the characters”.

Christian Ercolano’s debut film promises a different conception when it comes to tell the past without sadness and low blows; pure observation of a present that develops and continues beyond factory closings and political oblivion. "From my place of director, the best experience was being able to catch the essence of the main characters in those moments that only appear once and are never repeated”.

 

Screening:
Today, sat 26, 8.30 pm - AMB 3
Sun 27, 12.10 am - AMB 3

 

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