La vida útil
Uruguay, 2010, 67 min
This gentle black-and-white ode to a life lived among the reels was one of the discoveries of the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Forty-five and saddled with a fashion sense as outdated as the videotapes he hides his keys in, Jorge (played by Uruguayan film critic Jorge Jellinek) has worked his entire adult life at Montevideo’s Cinemateca Uruguaya. His routine has remained the same for years: projecting films, greeting the same six or seven audience members in line for every show, chatting with colleagues over possible series (“You take the Fridrick Thor Fridricksson”) and deciding what to repair next (the projectors or the seats?). But his days devoted to cinema, and those of his boss (played by the former head of the Cinemateca, Manuel Martínez Carril), might be coming to a sudden and life-changing end with the threatened closure of the economically unviable institution. A deadpan comedy of cinema and obsolescence, A Useful Life frames Jorge (and the archive) within a succession of outmoded technologies: faxes, telegrams, videotapes, reel-to-reel recorders and pay phones. At the same time, a flirtation with a female patron suggests a course of action. For a life spent working in film may end, but a life spent living with cinema? Not only useful but filled with hope, romance and dreams.
“The experiment was almost a success,” notes the spacesuit-clad narrator of this creative Spanish science fiction short, which won a special mention at Sundance. Back from the future, this mystery man putters about, watering flowers and doing other tasks for his neighbors, unable to share “the biggest secret in the universe.” (Chema García Ibarra, Spain, 7 min)
Total running time 74 min. Presented in association with The Global Film Initiative.