by Marviel Mateo
Amidst the darkness, the brilliant screen demanded my attention and succeeded in capturing my sight. Fully immersed in the movie, it was as though nothing else had mattered.
I had always been a lover of the arts. From a young age, I have spent hours dancing, engaging in musical pursuits, painting, reading, and writing. Through these, I have created different worlds, met characters impossible to forget, and led a multitude of lives within the pages of various books. The arts are my catharsis—my escape from the dull, monotonous reality.
And Gagarine was nothing short of beautiful. From its vivid, hyperrealistic scenes, to its characters and its storyline, Gagarine sublimely encapsulates the complexities of life, love, brotherhood, humanity, and community amidst poverty, racism, abandonment and neglect— all while defying tradition. It is poignant, original, political, and hypnotic yet simultaneously real.
To further add onto the magic, one of the directors and co-writer of the film, Fanny Liatard joined the audience through a Zoom call. Through their words, I was able to learn more about the years-long process of writing, filming, and directing, as well as gain insight into their real-life inspiration behind the film.
I have come to admire and appreciate their efforts to create this masterpiece, and I look up to both of the directors for their skill and dedication to creating well-rounded, unapologetically human characters, and a beautiful, immersive storyline that is both profoundly surreal yet absurdly raw, visceral, and realistic. I admire, too, how the film embraces ambiguity and is open-ended, demonstrating that it is not confined to determining a singular, certain path with regards to the characters’ fate. As for the characters, I am fond of the fact that they, too, are confronted with relatable struggles and are inspired by an underprivileged group of people, which ultimately showcases their struggles and brings awareness to their rarely acknowledged existence.
As an artist, this entire experience inspired me to create whatever I desire, however I please. As a woman and a person of color, it affirmed that my existence and my ideas are not inferior to those of anyone else. Finally, as an immigrant who had known intimately what it was like to live in poverty, it made me realize that my experiences, my story and history are equally valid and beautiful as everyone else’s. Thanks to this film, I am empowered to move on, to create art without any restrictions or any preconceived notions of what art should look like— of what art should be. In the future, I look forward to creating something that is as unapologetic, heartrending, and blissfully stunning as Gagarine. And with further development, I hope that through my work, I will soon be able to encapsulate the complexities of this ever-evolving, multifaceted world.