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AQ Feature

"Everything Else"

Filmmaker Natalia Almada’s "Everything Else" chronicles a bureaucrat’s awakening.
everythingelse
Courtest Todo Lo Demas

Sitting rigidly at her office desk, Doña Flor, a voter registration clerk in Mexico City, rejects the papers of the man sitting across from her, rebuffing his protests with stoic disapproval. “Don’t be angry, sir,” she says. “There are rules that have to be followed.” For Doña Flor, a middle-aged woman who lives alone with her cat, Manuelito, it’s just another monotonous day in an empty life. But soon after we meet the main character of Everything Else, her life changes dramatically when she awakes to the death of Manuelito, her only companion.

That day she goes to work without any outward sign of mourning. Yet her quiet trance slowly starts to break down, as her visits to the community pool (where she has never ventured a swim) become more frequent. And one day, she steps into the water. For Mexican-born writer and director Natalia Almada, that’s the moment her character — and her film — come alive. “The water is the possibility; it’s the hope in the film, it’s her will to have a connection to others, to keep living in a kind of full way,” Almada told AQ. As she begins to reawaken, she is helped along by an encounter with a woman at the pool.

Everything Else, Almada’s first fiction film, is a poignant portrait of loneliness, and a view of bureaucracy that the people on the other side of the desk rarely see. Adriana Barraza received the Best Actress Award at the 14th Morelia Film Festival for her portrayal of Doña Flor. The 98-minute film premiered at the Rome Film Festival in October 2016.

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Bons is an editor for AQ

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.