The oldest skatepark in Santiago, Chile, Los Reyes, sits just outside the looming metropolis itself, an oasis for Chilean youths, but also the home turf of Chola and Football, a pair of street dogs. Day by day, the elderly and stately Football tosses whatever items she finds in the large bowls where the skaters ride with the more youthful Chola at their side. Sometimes they toss the items back to the dogs, sometimes the dogs are left to their own devices.
Days turn into weeks and months. Skating events pop up and fade away. Some skaters share food with the dogs, some roll joints and bemoan their home lives. There are arguments and jokes told; a pregnancy and birth; the tale of a mother's boyfriend hell-bent on ruining breakfast for a late-rousing teen. We learn bits and pieces of these young Chileans' lives through audio alone as Football and Chola stand watch in the foreground, barking at passers-by, bathing in the park sprinklers and lazing in the heat of the sun—kings of the skatepark and fixtures for sure.
Directors Iván Osnovikoff and Bettina Perut's Los Reyes certainly qualifies as interesting, or maybe unique (as trite as that sounds), but only to a point. Word is, the pair originally set out to make a documentary about the skateboarding youth who hang around Los Reyes. Concerns about being identified, however, leave said teens out-of-frame at all times, but we do hear snippets of their stories played against footage of Football and Chola's daily lives. There's a parable in there somewhere. Probably.
It's a challenge to stay focused on the stories during the thousandth shot of a panting dog embattled by summer heat or the closeup of insects clinging to fur. There is surely something to be said about Football and Chola's freedom juxtaposed against the teens' perceived oppression, but we only get word-of-mouth accounts peppered in with talk both hubristic and naive. Never do we learn if their lives are actually bad or good or in-between. We assume it's the latter. Still, some kids think they'll escape their humdrum lives through skateboarding, others literally announce their invincibility. It's charming and silly and nostalgic in a way that eventually becomes borderline painful to hear.
Because maybe we do grow up too fast, and maybe we do let go of our youthful hubris before we're ready, and that's a shame. If a pair of street dogs can find the worthwhile in dropping a ball into a skatepark pool, maybe they are worth watching. If you're expecting any particular story, don't—but if you can glean meaning from simplicity, there's an odd sort of Zen comfort to Los Reyes. If nothing else, it's cute to see a dog try to bite the water spraying out of a sprinkler. Bless their hearts. (ADV)
+Oddly pleasant; dogs are objectively awesome
-Not wildly accessible
Directed by Osnovikoff and Perut
Center for Contemporary Arts, NR, 78 min.