VIOLIN 2007-08 (10') Violin is about blindness. Set in Choco on Colombia's remote pacific coast, it focuses on the relationship between a blind woman Dona Mauricia and her eleven-year old grandson Violin. The film opens with a close-up of Mauricia's face and moves over her body. Her wrinkled skin contrasts with that of her grandson by her side. As the camera moves between their faces it's clear that Mauricia is blind, whilst Violin's face is full of expression, movement and life.
Mauricia sits just inside her house by an open door, stroking her grandson's face, resting her hand on his, perhaps to feel closer to the world beyond her darkness. They sit together in silence bound to one another by her blindness. Her blindness is central to their relationship; Mauricia depends on Violin to help her navigate through the house, which also doubles up as a tiny village shop. When something needs to be fixed, Violin has to repair it. When a customer needs to be served, Violin attends.
Mauricia describes how she became blind, feeling an intense pain in her eyes and immediately losing her vision. She tells us that the only thing that has kept her going since is her love for her children. But she misses her sight to cut sugar cane - a job she's done all her life. The back door has fallen off its hinges so Violin finds a way to repair it, taking a machete to shorten it and ease its way. The house feels extremely fragile, a flimsy wooden structure built on stilts that could collapse at any moment. Their house is also weak and vulnerable to age. Sitting in their chairs by the front door once more, time seems suspended. A customer waits patiently by the counter to be served before Violin finally and reluctantly peels himself off his seat to assist.
We search Mauricia's skin and eyes for clues to how she imagines the world. The camera penetrates her, revealing the visual dimension missing from her world. Suddenly we hear footsteps and a child screaming. Could it be that Violin is not the perfect grandchild? Like Mauricia, we must use our imaginations and ears to reach our own conclusions. Violin might well have a violent side, one that we don't see. In Choco children know violence and are beaten by their parents. The cycle repeats. On hot dry days, Dona Mauricia likes to lie in a hammock in front of the house to find a breeze. It's Violin's job to hang the hammock and take her there. After a time he takes her back indoors. She needs the toilet and sits in darkness whilst Violin waits patiently outside. He guides her back but the door collapses from its hinges. The cycle repeats.
The metaphors are simple: Life, like this house, is fragile. People are blind in many ways, and domestic violence repeats itself from one generation to another. What seems like the perfect child may not be. The poverty and lack of basic medical facilities means it takes years for a woman like Mauricia to have a simple operation to restore her sight. Funds are stolen or diverted elsewhere - Colombia's war costs more than lives and trickles down to a simple operation that she cannot afford. African-Colombians and the indigenous in Colombia tend to suffer the most.