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Sanctuary (Juanita Onzaga x Patrick Doyle, 2023)

NotesPart of Special Issue1: 25X250

A sense of perishability spreads in Juanita Onzaga’s Sanctuary. The short film is made of a series of shaking images that show landscapes from the city and the jungle alike. These luminous glimpses are accompanied by a penetrating musical piece by Patrick Doyle. The film starts with the Colombian filmmaker’s reflection in a mirror. She speaks in voiceover and references tectonic plates: “we also have tectonic plates inside our bodies”. That statement helps to convey the idea of imminent frailty. So, if the frailties of existence are more exposed when Earth shakes, the fact that we are composed in the same way implies that with every action we make, there’s the possibility to crumble. In terms of form, Onzaga’s refined tracking shots resemble the tectonic plates, since they create a constant movement, where the places and entities keep shifting, which establishes some awareness of the ephemeral qualities of life. The film enacts the world’s permanent mutability, but what’s threatened to be lost is rather elusive: it’s something comprehensible to the senses; however, there’s no need to say it or show it directly. As the title implies, the short aims to give account of everything that is worth to preserve and adore: shimmering reflections, dusty windows, a beloved mother, Virgin of Guadalupe, conspicuous trees, a chaotic city. This Sanctuary keeps Doyle’s smooth notes in a jungle where animals dream a dream that’s shared by us, and which multiplies every time the film is heard and seen. The dream, too, is an invitation to what remains to be lived.