From Melilla on the north coast of Africa, on a clear day you can see the Spanish mainland, the gateway to Europe, where the promise of a better life beckons. Like his last film Bolingo: The Forest of Love, Alejandro Salgado’s Barzakh is about people on the coast hoping to make the crossing to the promised land. This time it’s a group of boys, unaccompanied minors, who are living in caves and crevices in the majestic mountain landscape.
In a beautiful, tightly framed play of light and above all dark, Salgado shows an existence on pause, in which time seems not to exist and life has become only waiting. Lighting fires and chain smoking, the boys contemplate the future. They have simple dreams, like finding a wife and having children who will enjoy a better standard of living and more happiness than they’ve had themselves. With the hiss of the ocean constantly in the background, they sing melancholy songs about destiny, doubt, hope, and the mothers they have left behind.