A fight between your parents. The winding road to work in the morning. Loneliness. The insecurity that plagues your neighborhood. Any situation can disappear a few seconds when you close your eyes, connect your headphones and press the “play” button. That is the power of music and art in general: they help thousands of young people flee from violence, drug trafficking and a context that is in charge of reminding them daily that there is perhaps no way out.
In 2019, I’m not here anymore He arrived at the Morelia International Film Festival to surprise everyone with its lowered cumbias, its attractive dance steps and the extravagance of its protagonists. Fernando Frías de la Parra’s second film (Rezeta, 2012) quickly became the perfect example of what culture can do for young people, especially in a country that ends with the hope of many.
“Beyond telling stories, cinema offers ways of seeing [la realidad]”, The filmmaker told us, moments after becoming the maximum winner of the FICM 2019. While holding with both hands the award for Best Film and public recognition, Frías affirmed that this film allowed him to comment on the lack of opportunities and the spirit of the youth of Mexico. “In the end, behind everything there is great humanism, which is important to look at. It is also important that we stop judging ourselves, that we learn to live in society and understand each other’s situations, ”he said.
The sound of the bass paves the way for what will be a great event. It is joined by the incomparable melody of the güiro and the timpani. Later, and since we are in Monterrey, the land of Celso Piña, there could be a happy accordion, capable of making even the dead dance. With this musical mix in his ears, Ulises (a surprising Juan Daniel García Treviño) closes his eyes and the world around him is transformed. Suddenly he is surrounded by his best friends – the famous Terkos gang – on an unforgettable night of cumbia lowered, or standing on Cerro de la Silla, with the capital of Nuevo León in the background, crossing the floor with his feet, jumping from one side to the other, spinning like a top, escaping from their reality. Suddenly, his cumbia dreams are stopped abruptly by the sound of gunshots and the blood splatter of some “Kolombians”, who have been killed by an armed command.
In a Monterrey hit by the war against drug trafficking of Felipe Calderón, Fernando Frías de la Parra introduces us to characters who, beyond remaining fearful, exist in a world that has already normalized the shootings, the corpses and the injustices: where to flee or dying seem the only options. Ulises is then forced to abandon his family – not his blood but his soul’s – to undertake a journey without return to New York. In that strange land, where you breathe an air of freedom, what used to be your escape now allows you to communicate with others. Because all of us, no matter where we come from, speak the universal language of music.
Photo: Eduardo Islas / PREMIERE Cinema
“I like the idea of playing around with the metaphor of the lowered cumbia; where a song that should last 5 minutes now lasts 10 “, Fernando Frías told us at the FICM 2019.” It is this intention of not wanting those days of youth to end, because you know that beyond, when you grow up, there is not much more for you”.
For the filmmaker, this Monterrey counterculture – famous all over the world – is a form of resistance: “It may not be verbal, but it is completely eloquent and rebellious towards a society that has looked bad on them, that represses and antagonizes them. The contentiousness of these “kolombia” boys occurs through music and clothing ”.
We are still here
It seems that those sounds of violence have stopped briefly, or at least have been overcome by that terrifying silence caused by confinement before COVID-19. Like all the plans in the world, the future of I’m not here anymore was modified by the pandemic. After the success at FICM, the film has been screened in different parts of the world: from the Puy ta Cuxlejaltic Zapatista Film Festival in Chiapas and the Cairo film competition, to crowded performances in Argentina and Monterrey. The future smiled even more with his entry into the official selection of festivals such as Tribeca and the promise of a Mexican premiere. However, due to the present circumstances, I am no longer here will arrive at the global Netflix catalog on May 27.
“Hopefully the film can help people escape a little of what we are experiencing,” says Fernando Frías from New York, one of the cities hardest hit by the disease. “I hope they connect not only with the idea of seeing new places, the colors or the dances [de esta historia], but also with that nostalgia of missing your home and wondering what it really means to be at home ”.
With his contagious dance steps to the rhythm of lowered cumbias, Ulises will transport us to other places. Thanks to the cinema, today we will not be here either.