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¡Salsa!

“There’s nothing more beautiful than an obedient woman” is the first of a few sentences uttered in writer/director Antonina Kerguelen’s sensually captivating Colombian short ¡Salsa!. In a place where conservative views thrive, Margarita (Sahay Nohemi) has a chance encounter with a deaf tourist named Liana (Isabelle Troup). The relationship between the two women deepens without any spoken words. The film was selected for the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival.

There’s an art to crafting the ideal hybrid silent film. Everything on screen must speak for itself regardless of dialogue, and ¡Salsa! relies heavily on letting its scenes breathe. Every glance and every dance play out with crisp detail and focus, without the need for too much context. One can almost immediately sense Margarita and Liana’s bond, conveying their connection with just a few longing gazes.

The sound design is another vital component of ¡Salsa! that relies on ambiance and subtle background music to really ground the characters. Even when the focus is on Liana, the world around her doesn’t go silent. Everything feels lively and lived in, and Troup capably navigates the role of an outsider finding her footing. In contrast stands Nohemi’s Margarita, who is clearly longing for something special in a place that shuns the extraordinary.

Kerguelen and director of photography Mateo López build tension between the two, the kind that ebbs and flows before finally reaching a fever pitch. Kerguelen and López infuse the journey with a multitude of intricate layers, despite its apparent simplicity. Margarita must come to terms with her feelings, and the filmmakers give Nohemi every opportunity to express this inner turmoil. There’s even hesitation and regret woven into the narrative, and it makes the experience of watching the short even more rewarding.

¡Salsa! makes the most of its premise by giving way to a tidal wave of emotions. Embarking on a deeply personal exploration, it begs the question of whether passion can prevail in spite of circumstances.

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¡Salsa!

“There’s nothing more beautiful than an obedient woman” is the first of a few sentences uttered in writer/director Antonina Kerguelen’s sensually captivating Colombian short ¡Salsa!.

Read More »