RiverRun 2016: He Hated Pigeons


maxresdefaultIn this pilgrimage of grief, Pedro Fontaine portrays Elias, a young Chilean coming to terms with the sudden and unexpected death of his lover, Sebastien, in a lyrical travelogue that takes in the breathtaking extremes of the South American country, from the Atacama Desert in the north to the ice fields of Patagonia to the south.

It would be overstating it to say that Elias arrives at a reckoning with his sexuality; there’s never any doubt that Sebastien was the love of his life. All the same, he carries an ambivalence about him, not owning up to their closeness when he encounters a female acquaintance or later passively accepting the blows of a homophobic bar patron. The scenes of the locales Elias passes through in fulfilling a promise to Sebastian — a beach, a bar, a marketplace, a folk dance — brim with life, but the protagonist remains set apart. Only when he shares the journey for a short while with a Canadian traveler, portrayed by director Ingrid Veninger, does he seem to open up and make a human connection. The bohemian hitchhikers towards the end of his journey are a convivial bunch, but Elias quickly slips into a waking dream of the life he shared with his departed soul mate. And as Elias gets closer to an answer in this lyrical film, his grip on his sanity becomes ever more tenuous.

He Hated Pigeons screens on April 16 at 4 p.m. and April 17 at 11:30 a.m. at A/perture 1.

— Jordan Green