El cuarto desnudo
| The Naked Room
Screening with the presence of talent
Friday 22th, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón Theatre, 18:30.
The only location (an interior): a doctor’s office; the main characters: children and adolescents; and, in a (categorical) background, anguished, afflicted, defeated parents. The narrative hinge: a pediatric psychiatrist. A marked commitment: to scrutinize the traumas and nightmares in the generational base of Mexican middle class. The tools: direct cinema, accompaniment, observation, assertive montage. In this second documentary by Nuria Ibáñez Castañeda, the camera blends itself into the austere decoration inside a pediatric psychiatrist office in a hospital in Mexico City. We attend to a compendium of sessions with the psychiatrist and several patients; some come accompanied by their parents and others on their own. The director, though, pays special attention to the spectator. Through a semi-frontal angle —the axis always remains between physician and patient— we witness the sessions; some of the cases end with a decision to subject patients to specific treatments, others proceed with their immediate admission to the hospital and medication follows. Everything happens in presence of the parents, their presence is outstanding, even in the sessions where they are not actually physically there.
If in La cuerda floja (2009) —“not an observational documentary, but one of provocation”— the director allowed herself some license, such as in the planning of scenes and the setting of the camera, to record the motivations and ideals of the owners of Circo Aslán, in Texcoco, in The Naked Room Ibáñez Castañeda approaches the tumultuous intimacy of Mexican families through these testimonies, shedding light on aspects of society that being part of the domestic arena usually remain in the dark. Here, childhood hopelessness and a premature discouragement are nothing but the reflection of a frightened and confused society, a dysfunctional motherland whose gaze is slippery and tends towards uncomfortable silence; subjected to treatments that —if we interpret the tone proposed by Ibáñez Castañeda for this appropriate documentary— would hardly be an alternative to derision and self-mutilation.