By Don Simpson | August 13, 2013
Director: William Vega
Writer: William Vega
Starring: Joghis Seudin Arias, Julio César Roble, Floralba Achicanoy, David Fernando Guacas, Heraldo Romero
An unknown brutality chases the recently orphaned Alicia (Joghis Seudin Arias) on a dreamlike journey from her hometown across a soupy Colombian landscape to La Sirga, her uncle’s (Julio César Roble) dilapidated lakeside inn. Her uncle immediately warns Alicia of the difficulty of life at La Sirga, but she has no other choice than to join the handy-housekeeper Flora (Floralba Achicanoy) in the near-Sisyphean task of perpetually repairing the rickety structure. The natural surroundings keep everyone well-fed with a steady diet of veggies and fish; while the cold, moist air constantly threatens Alicia’s health.
Their sole purpose is to keep La Sirga from falling apart, just in case the tourists arrive; but with rumors of violence in the surrounding Andean communities, the promise of tourists arriving at La Sirga seems like a mere fantasy. As time passes, their purpose grows increasingly absurd, as if they are all stuck in a Samuel Beckett play. With no money, there is no escape. They are stuck at La Sirga, waiting…
William Vega’s La Sirga is a visually poetic and motionless journey that captures the eternal struggle of rural Andean life. The characters constantly battle against the unforgiving natural elements; trudging through deep mud, rowing across the lake, weathering high winds and heavy rains. Just as the fog engulfs them, so do the sounds of their surroundings. The wind is always howling, ripping at the ramshackle tin roof; just as the fragile floorboards creak, moan and sometimes snap with every footstep.
Alicia’s unconscious routine of sleepwalking outside at night, burying candles in the muddy edge of the lake, is a metaphor that is far too oblique to decipher — then again, so is the rest of Vega’s film but that does not take away from its alluring beauty. Vega’s meditative entry into the slow cinema canon, La Sirga relies heavily upon the natural atmosphere of diegetic lighting, as the narrative rests blissfully, suspended in time.