Arkitektur på film: En Construcción (Work in Progress)
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A lyrical and humorous cinematic observation of a neighbourhood, its inhabitants, its history and its future, En Construcción, won the Fipresci, Best Film and Special Prize of the Jury at the San Sebastian Film Festival at its premiere, and was recently voted the 5th best film of the decade (2000-09) by Nicolas Azalbert of Cahiers du Cinema. The film focuses upon the construction of an upscale apartment block in Barcelona’s Barrio Chino district, as swathes of the neighbourhood are demolished in the city’s eradication of the physical infrastructure of vice as part of an EU funded urban development scheme. Guerin shot over 120 hours of footage to create a document of a city, ‘searching for its future while jostling its past… a construction site, where if you listen carefully, you can hear the sounds that move the world.’
The neighbourhood’s history of migration and flux is reflected in the film’s depiction of the urban site as a continual ‘work in progress.’ As the camera spends time with bricklayers ruminating upon the imperatives of speed in the construction of the new apartments, whilst working in the shadow of a medieval church and above a recently unearthed Roman cemetery, the film suggests significant dialogues around permanence, skill, legacy and time, with both lightness of touch and poetic detail. As one worker wryly muses, ‘Jesus wasn’t in a hurry.’
A perpetually stoned prostitute and her boyfriend serve as the occasional eyes of the area’s past of heroin, bordellos and the infamous gambling dens of Picasso and Hemmingway; El Raval’s old-timers discuss the rising price of houses and hookers over lunch; whilst the local and immigrant construction team build picture-windows and insert video-entry phones into the new apartments that will eventually result in their own displacement.Guerin creates magical cinema that takes a keen look at the transformation and inhabitation of a specific urban site, as both a window onto wider realities, and as a bridge between the past and the future.