Carles Bosch and Josep Maria Domènech.

Spain 2002, 120 min.

Balseros is a triumph. I salute directors Carles Bosch and Josep Maria Domènech for finding a holy grail of documentary storytelling: the plot unfolds so smoothly and with such narrative completeness that you have to pinch yourself to remember you’re not watching a fiction film (especially these days when so many fiction films look like docs).

Although two full hours of running time may sound too long for an observational doc, when the final credits rolled for Balseros, all I wanted to do was rewind the tape and watch it again. I feel lucky to have seen it first on the big cinema screen at IDFA: from the cool graphics of the opening title sequence to the slick cinematography, the epic scale, the sophisticated use of interview sync in voiceover and the luscious Cuban music soundtrack, the style is totally ‘feature’. It’s a sheer pleasure to watch.

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