STILLS FROM THE FILM
A new romantic short film about nostalgia and memory
My introduction to NYC-based artist Marcelo Gutierrez was last spring. I had just moved to New York and one of my first GAYLETTER assignments was to chat with him about his previous film, Tender Roses for Tough Climates. Its kaleidoscopic visuals stood out to me as well as the degree to which Marcelo holds his craft, which includes make-up, directing, writing and cinematography. In the year separating then and now, Marcelo has finished his latest project, another short film called Hiraeth.
“Hiraeth; (n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.” So opens Marcelo’s latest, two years in the making. After this definition introduces us to the film, we get three things almost immediately. First, a bright but twisted twinkling original score by Brooklyn artist Liam Benzvi. Second, a subtle self-reference to his last film via a Titanic screenplay that, if you blink, you could miss. And lastly, an unpretentious bologna sandwich.
Hiraeth is a film rooted in the artist’s obsession with biographies, memories, and how they’re retold. Beyond the glitter, satin, warm pink hues, and letters written and recited, those roots are the essence of the film — memories and how they warp over time. It’s up to the viewer to decide if the character — played, written, and co-directed by Marcelo — is delusional or imaginative; if the memories are real, fictionalized, escapist, or puerile.
My mind always goes back to the bologna sandwich. It was a detail I noticed the first time I watched it. But why is this thinker of grandiose thoughts (whether you see them as memories, dreams, or delusions) eating a bologna sandwich? I asked Marcelo about it and he told me that having grown up in a Colombian household, he never ate bologna but has always associated it with suburban America. Which itself begs questions — is that where this character is from? Is it what they aspire to? Of course, we don’t have answers to these questions, and that’s alright. The power of this film, like with memory, lies almost entirely in the interpretation. Everything else follows.
You can watch Hiraeth below.