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Review: 3a (se necesita chica para trabajar)

Facing the prospect of getting old seems less scary when viewed through the eyes of Oscar Clemente. The young director has managed to combine old age and immigration to create a natural, tender and unaffected documentary.

By:  José Lorenzo Benítez
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Director: Oscar Clemente Galán
Producer: Son de Producción S.L.
Year: 2008
Distribution: Son de Producción S.L.
Nationality: Spanish
Genre: feature length documentary
Did you know? shown at the European Film Festival in Seville

The protagonists of this documentary are made up of people you see around you every day; walking arm in arm, sitting in the park, chatting calmly. We’re used to them as we move past them unconsciously. But the people in charge of helping physically dependent people remain invisible. Their carers do not exist. Or at least until we need one ourselves.

This documentary came about as an exploration of these ideas. The director, Clemente, visited his grandparents in Madrid. An unknown Bolivian girl opened the door. 3a investigates the many levels that make up this experience. The silence of the passing of the seasons, the last stages of life, and the decision to move to a new country in order to save money for family back home. The Sevillian director gives the film a luminous perspective and a sense of humor. The cameras presence is discrete. A mosaic of intimate close-ups and interiors filmed sidelong with a fly-on-the-wall feel.

The four carers are Isa, Delia, Elisabeth and Tony, the only male in the group. They care for Lazaro, Juan, Olga, Alberto and Visitacion. Shaving, going to the hairdresser, getting a massage, gardening, applying cream, relearning to write… These are only some of the daily tasks for which patients need help every day. The documentary reflects on these apparently inconsequential daily chores in a celebration of being alive.

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“We come from the Third World to care for people of the Third Age”, comments one of the carers with a smile. Isa came from Peru at twenty. She plays in a female football team and feels she has integrated into the community. She often lays in bed with Olga, an elderly lady who hates being alone, and together they watch TV.

“Anyone who thinks he doesn’t need anything from anyone else is completely mistaken. Full stop”, declares Lazaro at 93 years of age in a small town from Castilla-La Mancha, under the watchful eye of Elisabeth. Colombian and mother of four, she left her home country to work in Spain. Her suitcase has been packed and ready to go for the last year. For the moment she stays on. But she misses her family desperately. “My father is in Colombia. I need to make things work here so that someone can care for him properly”.

There are few men in this profession. But there are exceptions. Tony, a carer from Brazil currently residing in Conil de la Frontera, speaks with his sister via internet as his patient watches on with a blank stare. Tony deals with the linguistic barrier in his stride: “Human beings need the company of others. Its part of their nature”, he explains at the beginning of the film.

Son de Producción has produced the film, with the help of the Ministry of Culture and Canal Sur. Far from falling into the usual sociological stereotypes, the storyline is sincere and the film an honest observation of the many paths on which life takes us.



1 comment

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El 9 December 2008 a las 5:32 PM, inés dijo...

dios¡¡¡¡k trabajo tan maravilloso¡¡¡¡cuánto lloré en la peli y que feliz me senti por ver que todo el bien que toni hace a mi padre,a mi casa y a mí,se ve reflejado en ese tributo que se le dá.gracias chicos,gracias toni.

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