A former cult member Pinky (Luis Felipe Lozano) works at a sweatshop at an undisclosed location in Bogota, Colombia. Although there is nothing to provide a window into how he was indoctrinated into a cult, with a certain look of uncertainty about this world in his eyes one can imagine that he’d make the perfect prey for a cult.
Photo © Los Conductos
The film opens with Pinky working at an illegal t-shirt factory making his way back into civilization. The film is shot in Bressonian style with precise medium shots of pop-art prints of silkscreens, torso, hands, table, fabric and paint. We see Pinky working in a mundane routine of transferring ink to stencil and onto t-shirts. Stencil after stencil switching different ink onto fabrics and long hours of Pinky working at the factory creates almost an atmosphere of imprisonment and his nights are a stark contrast. After dark Pinky comes alive with drugs filling his nights. The city looks apocalyptic, empty with blinking street lights. The red sky transforms the city into another world. There are a series of long takes of Pinky doing drugs and riding his motorcycle. He is on the run riding through the empty streets at night. Pinky rides his motorcycle through brightly lit tunnels freeing himself from being holed up in an illegal sweatshop.
Photo © Los Conductos
The film is a visual feast with sparse voice-over narration of philosophical and political discourse about the people and the government in Colombia. Stylistically, Los Conductos can’t help but exist in the shadow of Robert Bresson, with references to A Man Escaped. Shot on 16mm, the film has the look of a movie that could have been released somewhere in the 60s, reminiscent of The Wild Angels starring Peter Fonda with their motto: “We want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by the man. And we wanna get loaded…” Pinky is trying to free himself from the world, determined to take his fate into his own hands.
Third act of the film reveals Pinky’s desperate desire to free the world and himself. Not certain how he would do so by running on survival instincts throughout most of the film. The protagonist is looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, but demons are breathing down his neck while he is running for his life. Pinky has grown into a character who is unwittingly fighting to liberate an entire country.
Berlinale 2020 – Photo by The Master – © Jesper Mikkelsen
There is a feeling of irrepressible desire to change the world from the director. The film is shot in a neo-documentary format and inspired by the experience of a real-life person, Pinky, whom the director befriended and persuaded to play himself in the film. Undoubtedly, Camilo Restrepo proves his artistry at economical storytelling with his impressive first feature.
Camilo Restrepo was the winner of the GWFF Best First Feature Award at the 70th edition of Berlinale for Los Conductos.
Written by Jules Suo