Aquí sigo (Still here) brings together the existential ponderings of the people around us who most deserve to be listened to, those who have lived the longest. We travel the world hearing memories of love and loss, of joy and hardship.
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Mitzi Vanessa Arreola,
Amir Galván Cervera
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Ana Valeria Becerril,
Aqui sigo (Still here) brings together the existential ponderings of the people around us who perhaps most deserve to be taken notice of, those who have lived the longest. We jump from Sardinia to Japan, from Mexico to Barcelona and from Costa Rica to Canada, hearing poignant memories of love and loss, and of joy and hardship. As these nonagenarians and centenarians look back on their life, which memories do they most cherish? Which moments do they most often recall? Is suffering and struggle prerequisite to achieving happiness and peace? Perhaps their thoughts on how to live a long and full life are very different from those that we are usually offered. These characters are a diverse and surprising collection of ordinary people who are living extraordinary lives. Some speak with humour and lightness and some with drama and force, but none are afraid of being old and more importantly, none are afraid of being alive. Their stories of work, play, love and death are interspersed with ...
We've all gotten those chain e-mails and texts about people who've lived to be over 100 and are now exclusively sharing their "longevity secrets" with us. It's one thing to easily dismiss these messages and entirely another to hear them coming from the mouth of the very octage-, nonage- and centenarians who've made it to those ages and noticing how much their respective outlooks on life share in common.
"Still Here" consists of interviews with many of these remarkable people, hailing from 6 countries. The subjects of the doc are all fascinating although there are some clear standouts (a certain Costa Rican lady drew laughter at my showing every single time she showed up on screen) so it's a shame that the filmmaking lets them down sometime. The camera-work and sound are not just good but at times surprisingly innovative, so it's really the editing that's at fault here. The frequent and overlong fade-to-blacks excel at taking you out of the film.
The film also shows something of a "Latin culture" bias. While this cultural character stereotype does seem to somewhat come true here with most of the subjects from Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain and Italy showing definite candor and humor in contrast with the more serious and reserved Quebecois and Okinawan subjects, this is still no reason for the very limited screen time this last group receives in the film by comparison. The Okinawans in particular are unfairly treated almost as an afterthought and an item from a checklist someone just felt forced to include due to these islanders' famous longevity.
Fortunately, by the end, these questionable filmmaking choices aren't enough to overshadow the unexpected optimism of the documentary. The section where the subjects talk about how they keep themselves healthy and their outlook on life shows a definite similar mindset of taking life as it comes and not worrying too much. This might seem a lot like the usual conclusion of those chain messages, but hearing it from them, having known a little bit of their lives, histories, relationships, makes it a lot more unforgettable than a Whatsapp wall of text on your family group chat.
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