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Bajari: Gypsy Barcelona: Film Review

Bajari, Gypsy Barcelona Film Still - H 2013
"Bajari: Gypsy Barcelona"

The Bottom Line

Underwhelming flamenco doc doesn't do justice to its material.

Venue

Montreal World Film Festival, Documentaries of the World

Director-Screenwriter

Eva Vila Punti

A flamenco dance star's grand-niece stages a family tribute.

MONTREAL — A fly-on-wall look at present and future flamenco performers as they pay tribute to one from the past, Eva Vila Punti's Bajari, Gypsy Barcelona offers flashes of passion but little to draw in the average fan of the music. Even at festivals, reception should be muted for a doc that doesn't make the most of the access it has to some fine performers.

We open with a screening of old film footage starring the great flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya. In the audience, an enraptured young boy named Juan exclaims of her moves: "f--k -- jaw-splittin'!"

That kid's uninhibited enthusiasm for his ancestors' culture is the most compelling thing onscreen: Sporting baby-fat cheeks and long black hair, the kid struts and claps feverishly while his uncle and others have impromptu jam sessions. Later, we'll see him go choose materials for his first pair of patent-leather dance boots.

But Punti spends as much time with adults, including Amaya's grand-niece Karime, who has been recruited by a local group of guitarists and singers to mount a show honoring Carmen. Karime invites her mother to fly in from Mexico and join her onstage, and we observe many of the rehearsals and discussions as they select the show's repertoire.

Flamenco fans who don't require a polished set list may be happy to sit in on these sessions, where singing and playing can kick into gear for a couple of minutes only to taper off into discussions of plans. But most will be puzzled at Joan Tisminetzky's camerawork, which frames dancers so tightly we can rarely see their feet and often can't even see the hands whipping around the lower torso. The only possible rationale for this is the attention it focuses on the dancer's face; the fact that both perspectives can't be presented in well-edited dance sequences highlights the film's scattershot execution.

Production Company: Lastor Media

Director-Screenwriter: Eva Vila Punti

Producers: Tono Folguera, Oriol Ivern

Director of photography: Joan Tisminetzky

Editors: Ernest Blasi, Nuria Esquerra, Victor Kosskovsky

Sales: sergi.mcastillo@lastormedia.com

No rating, 80 minutes