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Chola and Football are a couple of street dogs that live in the Los Reyes skatepark. A microcosm is organized around them, composed of things, animals and young adolescents in conflict with an adult world that they reject but are required to enter.
The setting is an average skateboard park in the middle of a big city ... in this case, Santiago, Chile. The filmmakers originally set out to make a film about the teens and early twenty-somethings who frequent the park, but had trouble getting them to talk on camera (understandably, it turns out). Eventually, the documentarians noticed the two large dogs that appeared to live in the park: a black lab-ish female and a shaggy, bearlike but easygoing male.
So the filmmakers chose to shoot a documentary about the dogs instead; at least, that's what they SAID they were doing. And in fact, the pair of canines fill the screen for most of the 78 minutes of this largely wordless documentary -- you see their toys, their habits, how they treat each other, the lab chases passing donkeys and motorcycles, and they occasionally interact with humans but seem largely unconcerned with most of the scraping and rattling skateboards whizzing around them.
However, the microphone also periodically picked up conversations between the skateboarders: discussions of drug deals, booze and pot benders, reports of arguments with family, violent confrontations with cops, phone chats with friends who are new or expectant mothers, honest self-assessments of faults, errors, and the aimlessness of their lives.
It's a curiously calm, mostly relaxed series of days, nights, weather changes, with no ostensible story arc let alone onscreen drama (at least in human terms). The park's street art and graffiti get temporarily painted over and speakers and bleachers are set up for a festival that only mildly disrupts the life of the "residents" . . . the dogs appropriate soccer balls and tennis balls, and the lab creates her own games with them (the other dog seems to prefer wrestling with and carrying large stones) . . . park maintenance people and sprinkler systems do their stuff in and around the other activities . . . someone sets up doghouse-shelters for the residents that they eventually make some use of.
Over the course of two years of shooting, the dogs got quite accustomed to the cameras being (literally) in their face. You get extreme closeups of nostrils, eyes, flies walking and laying eggs on fur, paw pads that resemble geologic formations with tufts of grass (the dog hairs) sticking out from between them. There may even be an onscreen death, which -- if that's what happened -- is the most subtle yet startling mortal event yet captured on screen, but if not, is still a beautiful piece of artistic license.
Not a film for everyone, this is an unusual and thought-provoking piece of work -- wonderfully shot.
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