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In the City of Sylvia

José Luis Guérin
En la ciudad de Sylvia
Spain, France 2007 / 84’

Summer. A young foreigner wanders through the streets of a city, spontaneously observing and sketching gestures and expressions. He is looking for a woman he met there years before, his memories of her and her image still hang over the city. This search leads him to another woman and another again yet he remains forever under the spell of the one who is absent.

Venice IFF 2007


With his very original and occasionally Cubist-looking visual aesthetics, Guerín tells the story of a man looking for an unknown woman. No dramatic genuflections here. Guerín brings us pure cinema and fascinates and irritates until the absent plot is no longer important.

With minimal visual means, without any spun-out plot, the director creates the maximum amount of potency. He harks back to the most traditional examples of image creation, such as the point-of-view shot, and uses them in such a tenacious, versatile and concentrated way that the film is restored to its original force. Reminding us of film makers and painters such as Murnau, Ozu, Tati, Godard and Manet, he builds a homage to the pure image.

Rotterdam IFF 2008

José Luis Guerín born in 1960 in Barcelona, made experimental films. In 1983 he made his first feature, Los motivos de Berta. With En construcción he won the special jury prize at the San Sebastian Festival. He teaches at the Pompeu Fabra University.

Selected filmography:

1983 Los motivos de Berta

1987 City Life (współreż. / co-dir.)

1990 Innisfree

1997 Tren de sombras: le spectre du truit

2001 En construcción

2007 En la ciudad de Sylvia / In the City of Sylvia

2007 Unas fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia / Some Photos in the City of Sylvia