El Dorado is a town full of faith healers who think they can, for instance, cure a toothache with frogs. There is one disease they can’t cure, the titular dread. The documentary’s talking heads are the most fascinating part here because of their evasiveness and their semantics. “The dread is like indigestion, a disease doctors can’t cure,” one of them says.
Someone with indigestion can drink something to cure that, which is medicine which is science. And yes, the townsfolk’s doubts about medicine is relate-able, since some medicines delay the inevitable. There’s only one person who can cure the dread but he doesn’t live in this small Argentine town. He lives across the bridge. The grocer scrawls the healer’s name, Jorge, on a box that the townsfolk buy for him.
This movie, with its polish, feels like its messing with its audience by showing such backward people. But there’s also this instinct to respect them as much as possible. There’s a contradiction here that is also relate-able since not everyone who will watch this is a secular person. But the more they explain their rules, they also get to reveal their prejudices.
The film isn’t just talking head interviews with the townsfolk. It mixes that with scenes where the camera observes them from a distance. At first, this distance provides a bigger picture to the lives of the people living within El Dorado. That’s especially true for Jorge who balances his healing with farming squash.
But eventually, there’s a menacing thing about this distance, especially when it comes to depicting Jorge. He eventually loses the directors’ trust for reasons that the doc doesn’t explain. Jorge’s coldness against the directors also come after a disturbing, mysterious incident. It handles that incident frustratingly as super-text but nonetheless, its observations are fascinating.
- Genre: documentary, Foreign
- Release Date: 10/13/2018
- Directed by: Martin Benchimol, Pablo Aparo
- Produced by: Gema Juarez Allen, Mayra Bottero
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