“Un Varon”: chaotic journey through the virile streets of Bogota


Carlos (Felipe Ramirez), in “Un varon”, by Fabian Hernandez.


Whether A Varon, by Fabian Hernandez, renews the genre of films exploring non-binarity, feminine or masculine, it’s probably because its main character, Carlos (Felipe Ramirez), doesn’t really have a choice. In this largely autobiographical first feature film, selected for the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2022, the protagonist does not seek to be accepted as he would dream of being, but on the contrary according to what is expected of him. . This “we” designates the young Colombians who wander the streets of Bogota and have no other shelter than their own shell, necessarily hardened. If he wants to survive, Carlos must embody aggressive virility.

Born in Bogota, the 30-year-old filmmaker makes us relive his own experience, when he wandered around the neighborhoods of Sante Fe and Los Martires and was one of the rascas (“scum”): although welcomed in the center of Father Javier de Nicolo, to which the film is dedicated, Fabian Hernandez experienced violence, before giving it up and finding his place in cinema – he founded in 2015 his production company, Nickel Films, and is working on a new feature, The birds.

Carlos is not very tall and is building a physique “of guy”, as he says to the hairdresser who shaves his temples, with some stylized cutouts. He widens his figure by piling tee shirts on top of the dropped jeans. But the clothes are not enough, you still have to work on the walk, the way of raising your fist to say hello, without forgetting the eyebrows, trimmed with a razor to give a wilder look. But, facing the mirror, Carlos will be content to contemplate the effect of the lipstick from a distance, in one of the most striking shots of this silent film.

law of the strongest

A Varon is a journey without a destination. We will never know if the character is a boy or a girl. The director, reader of Michel Foucault (1926-1984), Judith Butler, Paul B. Preciado or Léo Thiers-Vidal (1970-2007), a sociologist who has studied masculinities, considers that Carlos is a mix between his own past and the present of actor Felipe Ramirez, a breakdancer he met at a rap concert.

Similarly, the film does not settle the question of documentary or fiction: it mixes staging and reality, shows the neighborhood in demolition and a few interviews facing the camera, where young people welcomed in the center briefly tell each other and describe this law of the strongest. One of them summarizes: “The street has tentacles that absorb you. » A young woman who finds the strength to smile explains, to her daughter, that she wants to get back afloat to finally find her. The quality of the work lies in the veracity of these faces who do not need to reveal their identity (actors or not?) in order to adhere to the project. On the other hand, the film loses in force and sometimes appears a little scholarly when, in its concern to describe the environment of Carlos, it deploys a whole range of characters, without really making them exist – the prostitute, the young father having hung up and devoting himself to his family, etc. There remains the bet, successful, to contemplate a face as a changing territory.

You have 4.93% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *