Undergrowth

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Undergrowth

Directed by David Gutiérrez Camps

  • Spain 2017; 77 min
  • Original version: Spanish
  • Genre: Drama

Synopsis

Musa Camara (Mauritania, 28 years old) doesn’t have a job. He spends his days alone, wondering around the beautiful forests and chaotic residential areas that surround Cassà de la Selva, the village he lives in. He tries to find pinecones and brushwood to gather which he later sells to small businesses in the area. With the tiny profit from these transactions, this young African man lives meagerly in a house shared with other migrants. Due to the risky nature of this work, Musa occasionally tries to find work in the residential areas. Often though, he doesn’t know what to do and simply wanders around. He lives on the fringes of 21st century European society, but his job is the oldest in existence: the gathering of nature’s resources. With a slow tempo and few words, the camera follows Musa in his adventures around the daily life of a country that still suffers the ravaging consequences of a burst housing bubble. Musa fights to survive in a primitive, beautiful way. UNDERGROWTH is a witness to the collision between a young African man and the Spanish society he unsuccessfully tries to integrate. Somehow, Musa seems to keep his spirits high: the rivers of his sadness ow underground.

Director's Statement

I have always felt attracted to what’s different, to what breaks the uniformity and generates questions. And the place and time when I grew up, Vidreres, a small village close to Girona, in Catalonia, Spain in the late 80’s, early 90’s wasn’t diverse. It was around this time when people who looked nothing like me started arriving to that monochrome environment. They had darker skin and were devoted to professions I found strange. They weren’t well received by most people. They were the first Africans arriving in Catalonia and I liked them. Seeing these people with much darker skin than mine interested my childish and playful self. Years later, with my energy devoted to the creation of cinema (or its attempt), I weighed the possibility of making a film about African immigration in rural Catalonia. I am talking about eight years ago, soon after I finished studying. While researching and exploring the possibility, I met many Africans and I realized with amazement that their reality was so different from my own, despite living just 200 meters from my grandmother’s house. It was as though I could travel to Mali by walking up the road. Getting to know the nine people that lived in a small apartment and ate with their hands, they told me they were returning from collecting pinecones in the forest. It fascinated me. But films aren’t made solely by an interest in another reality. After a few months, I abandoned the idea. I didn’t know how to proceed. My life evolved and, having more knowledge about filmmaking, I started researching the topic again, simultaneously looking inside myself to find out what type of film I wanted to make. And slowly, while meeting a lot of people from the community, writing a sort of fiction script and making many screen tests of possible cast members, I started to find the tone of the film I wanted to make. But it wasn’t until I found Musa Camara that I knew that I had to start shooting as soon as possible. His look, his intelligence and his presence in front of the camera convinced me. He had to be the protagonist of the project. It was time to make the film.

Production

  • JOHN BARTLEBY FILMS

    David Gutiérrez Camps