Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘The Last Archer’

Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘The Last Archer’

Spanish people might know who Albert Ignacio Manrique de Lara Diaz is, but he was a stranger to this art major who only know of four Spanish painters by heart. As a refresher, he did some work for the zine of a movement called The Archers, who call the Canary Islands their home base. The Islands have a port where foreign and thus subversive publications came in, which angered Franco’s regime. He survived the regime but fell ill to a stroke later in life, causing him to lose some of his memories. His granddaughter Dacil returned from Madrid to the Islands to help him record his memory. This documentary captures his voice and his side of the founding and the dissolution of The Archers. The younger de Lara also talks to her grandmother, also a survivor of the Spanish Civil War who has a clearer version of the events.

The younger de Lara also digs up Super 8 footage of her grandparents and herself. This all kind of seems puff piece-y, the score adding a sentimentality to the visuals. We have all seen Super 8 documentaries before. There is a re-enactment of the phase of her life where she leaves her grandparents to be her father’s arm candy in Madrid that looks both awkward and cheap. Some scenes are difficult to get through, and there is also an animation scene that makes the documentary more sentimental than in already is. But despite all those failings, she successfully captures the lives of an artistic couple who do not let their setbacks get to them. She also competently connects their stories to her own, revealing a reason why she had to leave her family. In doing so, she reveals a complexity between family and home, of pain and art’s healing quality.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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