A combination of heist movie, surrealism and comedy, La Distancia is one of the most gloriously strange films at the East End Film Festival. Sergio Caballero's second feature is a delightful, increasingly bizarre sci-fi set in Siberia, in Catalonian. And at only roughly 80 minutes long, it's a snapshot of peculiarity that doesn't get old.
As well as the three dwarves and the artist, we also meet the power station's guard, a man who masturbates while wearing women's heels and has conversations with a haiku spouting bucket. As things become increasingly difficult to explain and make sense of, the funnier the film gets. The three leads are fantastic characters to engage with on this strange journey. There's the high-voiced one, who can hear exceptionally well at a great distance, who is a particular favourite, especially when listening in to the masturbating guard while his comrades couldn't care less. One wonders why these characters haven't cropped up as a heist team before!
In all honesty, La Distancia is a difficult film to review. Not because it is especially complex, because the action is easily to follow, and the surrealism works, rather than just being there as a selling point. It is difficult, because different audiences may take different things away from it. The abrupt ending may delight and amuse some viewers, while it may baffle others. The humour may be a selling point to some, while the sci-fi is to others. La Distancia can be many things to many people, and in this instance, that isn't a bad thing. What Caballero has managed here is to craft a unique vision, and cement his place as the jester of the European art cinema court. La Distancia definitely belongs in the realm of art cinema, but unlike many of his contemporaries, he uses this categorisation to play with the expectations and stereotypes of such films, and creates something altogether more spectacular.
La Distancia is playing as part of the East End Film Festival. It will be showing at Hackney Picturehouse 21st of June. Buy tickets here.