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The Blue Star (La Estrella Azul)

Unconventional portrait of long-forgotten Spanish musician Mauricio Aznar takes viewers on a transcontinental journey of self-discovery (between Spain and Argentina) - from the 71st San Sebastian International Film Festival. 

Will musicians live forever in our minds? Or in our hearts? Perhaps it only depends on whether their songs to outlive them. Javier Macipe’s surprising and fascinating debut feature, The Blue Star, proves this argument right. Presented in the New Directors section of the San Sebastian International Film Festival, many cinephiles wondered after the first screenings why this Spanish gem was not included in the Official Selection.

The beginning of the film picks up the moments of hesitation the Zaragozan punk-rock band Más Birras and its vocalist, Mauricio Aznar (Pepe Lorente in his first film role). At first, it is difficult to grasp that this film is based on true events. Incapable to cope with fame, weighed down by past drug and alcohol abuse, Mauricio’s life begins to unravel in a catastrophic way. Publicly, during a concert where he gets into an argument with a photographer in the audience and leaves the stage interrupting a song in anger. Privately, when he is dumped by his fiancée, Olga (Bruna Cusí), although he is comforted by his beloved brother, Pedro (Marc Rodríguez), also a musician. Mauricio decides to take a break from his troubles. A lover of Latin-American folk music, he travels around Argentina, visiting villages far from the capital and folk festivals (where tango and milonga are sung) intending to visit Atahualpa Yupanqui’s mythic house in Cerro Colorado.

The twists and turns in the story will organically follow one another, causing Mauricio to end up instead on the outskirts of Santiago del Estero, the oldest city in the country, searching for the leader of the Carabajal family, Carlos Carabajal. He is said to be the creator of the chacarera, a less commercial folk music genre in Argentina (danced in pairs and based on 3/4 or 6/8 time signature heavy drum rhythms and guitar strumming). We can perfectly understand Mauricio’s initial fascination with these dances, melodies, and their sentimental lyrics, as they also enrapture the audience with their live performance.

What happens during the second act, could be one of the liveliest musical stories ever seen on screen: the crossover of rock’n roll with the Carabajal family’s way of life and their peculiar musical sense. How the inspiration of these joint discoveries changes Mauricio is a fruitful challenge. It not only transforms his artistic measure as a composer, but also himself as a man. Love, humour, poetry, solidarity and the collective struggle for the underprivileged permeate all facets of his personality for the rest of his life.

The third and final act of the film provides the true leap of faith, leaving an indelible mark on the genre. The ending blurs the lines between fiction, non-fiction and metafiction. There are hints of this throughout the movie. The original and ballsy way in which the final scenes is resolved (and their lasting impact on Mauricio’s life) is also remarkable. These scenes will linger in your memory for many days to come.

Special kudos to Macipe, two-time nominee for the Goya Short Fiction Film Awards, who reveals himself here no longer as a promise, but as a skilful and powerful filmmaker. No scene feels contrived. There is a natural path towards the completion the enigma of Mauricio’s disappearance from the collective memory. Lorente is strikingly good in his first leading role as the charismatic Mauricio. He stands out, exuding charm and truth from every pore of his body.

The talented cinematographers Álvaro Medina and Rui Poças (from Jaione Camborda’s Golden Shell winning O Corno) also deserve a mention. Viewers are left to enjoy the claustrophobic Zaragozan nightlife, sunny Argentinean interiors and starry skies.

The Blue Star is Javier Macipe’s sophomore feature. It premiered in at the 71st San Sebastian International Film Festival, where it won the TCM Youth Award.

This piece is published in partnership with Spanish culture and lifestyle portal Deve. You can view the original piece (in Spanish) by clicking here.

By David Villalmanzo - 02-10-2023

A film buff and part-time critic, as well as a civil engineer. A railway and celluloid worker, he seeks to build bridges with other fields and professions, as well as to travel down cultural and lei...

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