Review: Window (2021)

© Edgar Jorge Baralt

Sometimes the simplest and the most mundane things have the power to send us down the memory lane, and further in the direction direction to abstract. A snapshot photo of the stained glass window from Edgar Jorge Baralt’s childhood home in Caracas elicits memories in his short documentary video essay Window (Ventana) that has just premiered at Berlinale Shorts competition.

Baralt opens the film with an analysis of the photo itself in the voice-over narration which is used as the primary way of sharing his thoughts in the beginning of the film. Then he moves on to explain what that particular photo and that particular window mean to him personally. As the content of the narration gets more and more abstract in the vein of stream of consciousness, the imagery follows the cue. We get to see the vague recreation of the photo, using the simpler, more modern window and the coloured computer screens underneath it. Then Baralt projects the photo on the same screens. Later on, the things get more personal, the narration switches from English to Spanish, the slide show is projected on a living-room TV screen, two people hug in front of it, the electronic music loop kicks in and the imagery goes all the way to the realm of abstract, to the sky…

The Venezuela-born and Los Angeles based director Edgar Jorge Baralt refers to his Berlinale Shorts contender as a “Soft time-travel” film. There is no doubt that Window is a deeply personal work realized with almost no budget, based on the idea of showing the instability of the present by browsing through the pieces of past. Most of the work here is done by Baralt himself, he is credited as the writer/director, cinematographer, editor and music composer, as well as the narrator and cast member. The rest of the work, mostly in the sound department, is done by his creative partner Christina C. Nguyen who also served as the film’s additional cinematographer and fellow cast member.

The question is, however, if it actually works on the viewers, and the answer to it largely depends on the individual memories the viewers have. Technically, Window is an apt piece of cinematic work, but the road it takes from the theoretical via the personal to the abstract can prove to be a bit too free-wheeling for its own good.

Original title: Ventana
Year: 2021
Runtime: 10’ 35’’
Country: USA
Languages: English, Spanish
Directed by: Edgar Jorge Baralt
Written by: Edgar Jorge Baralt
With: Edgar Jorge Baralt, Christina C. Nguyen
Narrated by: Edgar Jorge Baralt
Cinematography by: Edgar Jorge Baralt
Editing by: Edgar Jorge Baralt
Music by: Edgar Jorge Baralt
Sound design by: Christina C. Nguyen
Sound recording by: Christina C. Nguyen
Produced by: Edgar Jorge Baralt