for Cinetalk.net

In April 2004, football legend Diego Maradona was hospitalized in Buenos Aires after a heart attack. Many Argentinians traveled from all corners of the country to be near their idol. One of them could have been Tati Benitez (played by non-professional Ignacio Benitez). After learning about the faith of his favorite player, Benitez stumbles upon a giant tree roots in which he sees the shape of Maradona triumphant after a goal.  The young man sets course to find the resting place of the retired player in order to present him the ‘statue’.

Carlo Sorin’s The Road to Sand Diego (El camino de San Diego, 2006),  delivers a fictional road movie filled with genuine characters. Some parts are influenced by documentary, much in ways that resonate the fictional works of famous French director Agnes Varda. The choice to use non-professionals gives credit to his storytelling. It ‘might have been Tati’ but it  probably was. Him and a lot of others. The man is obsessed with Maradona. He knows his stats by heart, owns a worn out shirt with the famous #10, the number is also tatooed on his back, the two parrots he owns scream “Maradona” all the time.

At first, from the point of view of a spectator, Tati leaving his poverty striken village to bring a gift to wealthy unhealthy Maradona does not make much sense. But the essence of Sorin’s bitter sweet (but humorous) drama is about the journey itself. It is partly a lovely excuse to chronicle people along the way, as much as it is about the evolution of the character in what is a pilgrimage in which he ultimately finds about himself. The path to reach what he believes to be a savior is what’s ( partly) freeing Tati. Even the village priest, although it is sinful, let him believe, because it is needed, that it is worthy to bring this (false) idol to the idol, the ‘hand’ of God’ seen as a savior where ever he ended up .

 

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