¿Dónde estabas tú?

José Antonio Hurtado

Does it make sense to speak of such a crude and unsavoury subject (violence is always crude and unsavoury and even more so when it is structural), which causes us a deep unease, through subtle visual metaphors, through poetics full of symbols, through a technical display full of virtuosity and elegance? Can the stylised and apparently distant language of animation be used to speak of obscure and everyday realities that affect and concern us?

Where were you?, a film both beautiful and delicate in its forms and forceful in its critical discourse, is reliable proof that it is possible. It reveals itself as a proposal with a great richness of nuances, whilst its images are not a mere illustration of those voices that we hear on the soundtrack and that tell us intimate and painful experiences. I know those voices are real, recorded face to face, and I know they belong to three very different women from very distant geographies, but those voices are transcended and understood by an empathic gaze that does not want to remain as a mere superficial testimony.

Behind those drawn faces in the foreground that question us, those urban landscapes painted in choreographic movement, that colourful nature, there are three true stories, from three real women, flesh and blood people, who have experienced a living hell but, as we are told, have found a way out. There is always hope when there is determination to continue living (freely and with dignity), and the last moments of the film endorse that hope projected towards the future.

Perhaps these notes, impressions and reflections sound too serious, but they are only the product of the emotion –aesthetic emotion, too– that watching it with my partner Dora has brought up in me, in the darkness of our home cinema, this dream come true, woven with the magic of animation, after a lot of time and effort.