Known as our closest living relatives, as humans we’re absolutely fascinated in primates and their behaviour. For most of us, this interest results in watching the odd documentary or funny viral video, but for filmmaker Federico Gutierrez Obeso, he turned this preoccupation into the story for his latest short film Primos.
“I could recognize myself so easily in these creatures”
“I got interested in primate behavior after watching a BBC documentary on primates”, the director explains as I try to get the bottom of his unusual animation. “Right after watching the documentary, I felt an eerie feeling because I could recognize myself so easily in these creatures. I wanted to learn more, so I started reading books by primatologists Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal”.
Taking his research and attempting to use it to explore the mysteries of our existence, Gutierrez Obeso hit somewhat of an existential brick wall when it came to finding answers, but was left instead with the foundations of a fantasy story starring apes. Beginning life as a book, the director took his findings about primate behaviour and turned them into graphic stories, before stripping down this collection of tales into one larger narrative.
Admitting he wanted Primos to act as a “statement on hope”, this 10-minute short is the filmmaker’s call to action for humanity, as he believes our existence certainly isn’t carved in stone. “We should always push to become the best version of ourselves, as individuals and society”, he explains. “There’s so much joy, beauty and mystery in just being alive”.
Those are some grand themes to tackle in a 10-minute short and while I’m not sure everyone viewing Primos will pull such deep meaning from the film, there’s plenty to enjoy here on a surface level. Set to a dramatic score by Manuel Velázquez González Durán, there’s a classical Fable-esque feel to Gutierrez Obeso’s short that’s complimented by some traditional animation. It’s really a beautiful film to watch, even if it lacks the narrative clarity you might have been seeking.
Throughout its 10-minute duration, the film builds steadily and although its not always clear of the connection between the two stories unfolding, you follow both with their growing tensions. Things culminate, with a beautiful abstract dance sequence which reveals the origins of the mysterious ‘one-eyed monkey’ at the centre of the story and you feel as if you’ve been taking on a spiritual loop by the end of the film. With the story feeling like it could continue several times over, as you pick out more details each time.
If you want to see more of Federico’s work, you can hop over to his website (link below) or visit his Vimeo page. Next up for the filmmaker, he’s working on feature, which he hopes they’ll start producing in 2021. He continues to work as an animation director at pictoline.com.