A fable on obesity

by Yoshua Oviedo Ugalde

A Fable On Obesity

What is the distance between a person and the world that surrounds him? This is the question that Alejandro Guzmán attempts to answer with his first feature-film, Distancias cortas. An exploration of Federico's life, who due to his obesity is confined to short distance shifts.

The film begins with the camera approaching Federico, as it goes further into the room where he is, the body starts to occupy almost the entirety of the frame; in this way, the character's physique is dimensioned and the vewpoint of the film is established.

The original screenplay is by Itzel Lara who transferred a series of memories in order to assembly a simple story, which works well due to its honesty and to the emotional proximity of the characters. This is also how Guzmán understood it as he let the plot flow through a minimalistic scenography that oscilates between documentary realism and comic fiction.

After a first descriptive part, in which the physical space where the actions take place is revealed, the protagonist's movement limitations, and his relationship with his sister and brother-in-law, the film gradually leaves its contemplative nature to propose a fiction.

The transition takes place the moment Federico is seen leaving his home for the first occasion: the time slows down when he encounters a group of kids playing in the street, and a fictive viewpoint is introduced.

In the outside world, Federico meets Paulo, a young employee at a photographic shop. The interaction between them is pleasant, and although Paulo's character comes across as unnatural, it serves to engage with a young audience through comic gags.

Federico's detachment from his ordinary context, motivates his brother-in-law and Paulo to also take risks and abandon their comfort zone, the first one under the dominant influence of his wife, and the latter enclosed in his manga readings and his headphones. A comradeship free of prejudices will form between the three, and each character will shorten the distance that separates them, getting closer in the physical as well as in the emotive. Through this emotional journey, the photographs also join Federico with his past, allowing him to see his mother again and enabling a longed for trip to the sea.

In spite of some shots that distract with their artificiality and being a fable whose approach is not a novelty,Distancias cortas turns out to be gratifying and shortens the distance between the screen and the audience.