WHO is he?

Argentine film director, writer and producer, who has been working since the early part of the last decade. Even though Alonso has made only four feature length films, thanks to his artistic conviction and surefootedness, he has succeeded in establishing himself as one of the most noteworthy of new generation filmmakers.

WHAT are his films about?

Themes

Alonso’s films revolve around spaces — manmade and natural — and examine Man’s position — both in the literal and philosophical sense — in the world around him. These films do not deal with concrete national or international politics. There are no significant social structures at work in these narratives. The protagonist — all of them men — is often alone, self-sustained and on the move. These men seem to have evaded socio-political / ideological space, possessing a ghost-like existence and achieving a kind of true freedom.

Style

Alonso’s aesthetic is deep-rooted in cinematic photorealism (championed by André Bazin) and employs deep-focus cinematography and a richly evocative, ambient sound design sans musical score. The geography and architecture in his films are of chief significance. The shots are exceptionally long and the action sparse. Alonso’s modus operandi straddles documentary and fictional methods and casts non-professionals in roles that are variations of what they do in real life, which results in performances that are both anti-psychological and naturalistic.

WHY is he of interest?

In a film climate marked by psychological realist cinema that reduces characters to overarching statements, Alonso’s cinema, which eschews popular, reductivist psychology for philosophical contemplation, is a strong countering voice. Moreover, the documentary aspect of his cinema captures the physicality of everyday work and humdrum routines in all its quotidian rhythms — something we rarely see in the elliptical idiom of current day filmmaking.

WHERE to discover him?

Los Muertos (2004), Alonso’s second work, portrays Vargas (Argentino Vargas), a man in his fifties who is released from prison long after having slain his brother, as he traverses the woods to meet his estranged daughter. Vargas’ journey, redolent of that in Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), from the confines of society to the nascence of nature is also a journey into the heart of man’s darkness. Alonso’s film refuses to stereotype or explain away Vargas’ character and, in the process, makes him complex and deeply human.