Nuria Ibáñez Castañeda - True/False Film Fest Nuria Ibáñez Castañeda - True/False Film Fest

Nuria Ibáñez Castañeda


More often than not when observational filmmaking contorts itself into narrative structure, the limitations of this mode garishly reveal themselves. Your average subject performs their lives for other people, not a camera, and life’s rhythms rarely align with the beats established by fiction storytellers. And yet narrative is a useful way of processing our day-to-day lives, and reality does contain emotions, quandaries and other sensations that invented worlds cannot generate. How to integrate the two? To answer this question and many more, we should study the films of Nuria Ibáñez Castañeda, who continuously approaches the real world with startling intuition and grace. Ibáñez Castañeda is the 2019 recipient of our only prize, the True Vision Award, given to a mid-career filmmaker for advancing the art of nonfiction cinema. In her three features, this Spanish-born, Mexico-based director spends years building a place for her camera inside delicate relationships — a young couple secretly contemplating an escape from their tight-knit circus family (The Tightrope, 2009), wounded children caught in a painful dialogue with a mental health institution (The Naked Room, 2013), and, in her latest and most majestic work (A Wild Stream, 2018), two aching fishermen struggling to articulate their emotions. How Ibáñez Castañeda achieves this intimacy feels both more refined and more enigmatic with each successive feature. But each time, she honors it with an unwavering attentiveness, yielding human emotions seldom accessible to the observational camera. She carefully tucks these soul-rattling moments into films that rigorously and lyrically approach time and place. She allows us to temporarily enter these worlds, looking intently at the most private exchanges of others only to find ourselves staring in a mirror.