In Barrio the drama is largely to be found in meticulous observations. Fernando León de Aranoa shows ordinary, everyday life in a poor district on the outskirts of Madrid, called simply El Barrio ('the district'). However this does not result in a melodrama or a morbid portrait of social wrongs. In a sober and realistic style the film moves slowly from a warm to a more hardened, sombre and gripping tone: on the way to adulthood, everyone loses his innocence. El Barrio is a drab district, a concrete jungle with huge grey buildings. There are no trees, the houses are badly maintained or derelict. Unemployment reigns, the TVs are on at full blast. Traffic races continually along the motorways that divide the district from the city centre. This is where Rai, Manu and Javi live. They have the same dreams as all other children, but the difference is that these dreams are out of their reach. And they know it. Cut off from paradise by the motorway, by a father who is unemployed and by an income of two hunderd pesetas. The TV is their only window on the world, displaying all their desires, but they can't get at them. On the benches in the concrete park, they hang around, chat and banish their boredom. They are not budding crooks, but they are less well equipped to resist the negative forces that their surroundings exert.
Fernando León de Aranoa
Country of production
Production Year
Festival Edition
IFFR 1999
International title
Elias Querejeta P.C.
Studio Canal
Fernando León de Aranoa