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LONELY ROCK (2020,ARG) – 6.5/10

Argentinian feature film debutant Alejandro Telemaco Tarraf presented himself with a typical artistic naturalistic authentic drama that has been widely filmed throughout Latin America in recent years. “Piedra sola” or “Lonely Rock” is located somewhere halfway between an observational docudrama and a contemplative drama in which real residents of a rural community located at 4000 meters above sea level in the north of Argentina along the border with Bolivia play themselves. It is a film that in a poetic, hypnotic, contemplative, mystical style follows the lives of this Indian village community, which mainly survives by raising llamas.

Thus, in the opening scene, we see one such family slaughtering a lamb, then carving it, and each member of the family has their own task. Dad has to walk to the nearest town to sell meat at the local market, while his son is in charge of the furs. Although Tarraf’s film fictionally depicts their lives, it all seems very real, and not only are they all playing themselves, but also the environment here is expectedly impressive. For these people, who still live according to some tribal, ancient, almost pre-civilization customs, llamas represent life, and for one of them, Fidel, big problems are caused by a puma that appeared in that part of the Andes.

The tribal council gathers and Fidel presents his problem to them, and we follow the series of rituals and sacrifices to Mother Earth to make sure that the problem with the cougar disappears in the hope that the predator will give up on his herd. It all seems mystical, on the border between magic and realism, and the music and photography further enhance the almost spiritual experience that “Lonely Rock” brings. In an interesting way, this film shows how ancient myths and customs and traces of modernity still coexist in such marginal, remote areas. Visually it looks impressive, almost hypnotizing, and with “Lonely Rock” we get the impression of what a harsh, difficult life is actually like, a life completely different from ours.