There are people in Guillermo Garcia Lopez’s documentary Fragil Equilibrio (Delicate Balance), lots and lots of people. The screen is flooded with images of them. Crossing busy streets, wandering manic markets, sitting tranquilly as the rest of the world passes by. Though, there’s not just people, there are an incredible amount of buildings. The institutions that many of the people work for, the domiciles the people live in and the public spaces they meet in. Lots of images of people, buildings and spaces. This is the crux of the film, human beings and their relationship with the world around them, all held together in delicate balance.
One of the first things to hit home about these images are the similarities, no matter where in the world, human beings are doing similar things. What Lopez pinpoints is the general search for a better life, no matter the socio-economic background.
This focus is broken into three levels, Japanese salarymen striving for material happiness to make their long hours and stresses worth it. A man in Madrid that has lost his job, his health, his wife and finally his house, now existing in a squatter’s flat, outside of society. The final group is a mix of African nationalities camping in Morocco, hoping to make a break out of the continent and into Europe, the land of promise, the place where they believe many of Africa’s resources and wealth reside.
These disparate groups have been let down by their governments and the economic framework, Lopez has much empathy for them. This is delicate filmmaking, watching people, making a point without ferocious political point scoring. These people are all fundamentally hopeless, though they keep their spirits up. Slowly a great swell of sadness rises in the pit of your stomach, lamenting how unfair their situation is.
This creates a sorrowful view of the world, yet Lopez’s film has a drive of optimism, fuelled by the sage-like musings of Former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica. He has a vastly distinct experience from most of the world’s leaders, born into poverty and fighting with guerrilla fighters against the military dictatorship before being imprisoned for thirteen years. He brings with him a unique view of the world. He contemplates all the things humanity has built, all the things we are told we want, and whether we actually want them, whether or not any of it makes most people happy.
Do all these resources and great technology really make the world a fairer, healthier and ecologically sound space? As the number of people who have fallen out of the system increase and more and more become disillusioned with the life they are quite literally sold, there will be more call for change. There is a delicate balance that is just about to tip.