When at their creative and skillful best, a filmmaker does far more than displays a story in an entertaining fashion; they materialize the emotional conduit which allows us to relate to each other and understand the motivations that result in action. This is an extraordinary feat when done by a master filmmaker because it elicits deep emotions without any tactile connection, in essence making us all part of a universal body. Alvaro Giron is this type of artist. His films, documentaries, and music videos are not what would be considered mainstream but their effects resonate among the filmmaking community and will influence generations to come. In conversation, Mr. Giron will often muse upon how his search for great storytelling has led to his use of unorthodox manners. Impressively, these also manifest unique works that are transfixing.
In the same way that consummate actors pursue disparate roles in search of the experience they offer, Mr. Giron has amassed an eclectic body of films which testify to his pursuit of universal awareness. From the aluCine Toronto Latin Film+Media Arts Festival commissioned experimental Walk Pass to Bleiben which received massive praise at the Festival de Cine Pobre de Cuba, Alvaro Giron has exhibited the cross-cultural appeal which is a staple in so many of the legendary filmmakers. The ability to simultaneously present the experience of specific characters that also resonates with all people is the cornerstone of great storytelling. Names of Solidarity is an ideal example of this. This forty-five-minute documentary follows a group of Catholic high school students who travel to Nicaragua to deliver the funds they raised to build a classroom in a small coastal village. The film illuminates the dynamics present in such a cultural exchange among its participants. Unexpectedly, Alvaro has presented a film which is much more about Canada and Canadians than those whom these school children are going to aid. It’s an unvarnished depiction of the giver who undertakes such an endeavor. Bleiben is an exhibition of a man in his 40’s who has settled into a routine that alienates him from much of the world even while he resides in a city. Anyone who has felt “unseen” or invisible even in a crowd will instantly recognize Bleiben’s world though Alvaro has masterfully crafted a perspective which allows an out-of-body observation. The film manifests that internal question which arises from such a scenario, a feeling of “who am I?” that can shake one’s sense of identity and future. Bleiben was an official selection of the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival in Austin, TX.
Alvaro’s 2020 drama Breathe the Night might be his most lauded film thus far. Winner of multiple awards at the FilmGate Miami Festival, this dramatic film was so well received that it was acquired by Warner Media and is now available on HBO Max. Sharing the common thread of all Mr. Giron’s films, Breathe the Night presents the story of a specific person, in this case it’s a single mother named Elisa, but establishes a tone in which audiences can relate to her struggles while gaining a deep admiration for her. Beyond telling the personal story of Elisa’s relationship with her daughter, friends, and love interest, Breathe the Night is the story of an immigrant. Alvaro communicates, “Toronto is a place where over 50% of the population are today from somewhere else, it is no coincidence we wanted it to be the big frame that in a way generates the flow of the narrative. The main characters are in the process of discovering who they are or can be in that setting, which can seem totally indifferent to them or somewhat inviting. We also knew we wanted to stay close to an intimate story, and that we wanted to see the transitions from the public to the private in a seamless way, without relying on obvious landmarks or totally non-descript environments. The movie presents its love to the city in a humble way, as a testament to the chances we were given to be present and share it with others.” Having shared the immigrant experience himself, Mr. Giron has combined his talent with valuable insight that aids those unfamiliar with this journey in understanding it.
Alvaro is presently involved on a number of projects which range from the feature film El trabajo de la polilla en la llama to writing a script for Salvaged Media and even an installation piece at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. One of the most insightful and original filmmakers working today, there’s no better means of understanding his immense talent than experiencing his work yourself. Thanks to streaming services, Canadians and Angelinos aren’t the only ones able to do so these days.
Writer: Sharon Howe
Published by Pooja Agarwal