Photos and Video
The definition of family is triumphantly explored in Miguel Albaladejo's moving comedy/drama Bear Cub (Cachorro). From the opening scene we learn that this story will diverge from a narrow view of the nuclear family. We meet Pedro, unabashedly and fondly known as a "bear" -- a gay male who is big and hairy. This full-frontal introduction to Pedro's active lifestyle gives us no indication about the change about to arrive in the form of his 11-year-old nephew Bernardo, who is staying with him, albeit grudgingly, while his hippie mother goes to India for two weeks. Pedro is willing to play the "proper" uncle to his nephew -- starting with "de-gaying" his apartment -- until he learns that Bernardo already knows about his lifestyle. As they learn to trust one another, news comes that Bernardo's mother has been arrested, making Bernardo's visit a permanent arrangement. Pedro must adjust to being a full-fledged guardian, accepting all the challenges of rearing a child. The two gradually gain a stronger bond that is disrupted by Bernardo's paternal grandmother, Dona, previously exiled from his life, who wants custody and will use Pedro's lifestyle against him to get it. Albaladejo never stoops to over-sentimentality nor sensationalism, allowing this amusingly touching piece, with a bit of Kramer vs. Kramer drama, to evolve on its own. Along with a timely, poignant story, Bear Cub also draws emotional power from the amazing chemistry of its two leads, veteran Jose Luis García-Perez as Pedro, and shining youngster David Castillo as Bernardo.
Director's Statement Collapse
I don't think it can be lost on anyone that in recent years we've been fed quite a generous diet of films with homosexual themes and characters. I suppose it's a first step towards a much desired normalization of things. Some of those films have managed to really reach home to us thanks to the strength of emotion, the sincerity, daring, and originality with which the stories were put together and with which the characters were depicted. But the mainstream of this so-called gay cinema is limited, as far as I am concerned, in that they seem bent on satisfying a few comfortable stereotypes: the ideal homosexual--good-looking, educated, sensitive, romantic. Or, if not, the funny guy, as camp as can be. Both of whom are always excellent friends for women. Then there are those comedies, often very coarse, built around those very stereotypes. Finally, there are those who make an effort to address a series of problems easily associated with homosexuality: the difficulty to assume and accept one's homosexuality, discrimination, unrequited love, or the terrible hammer-blow called AIDS. Since this is all now rather common ground, and has been seen time and time again, I think it behooves us to think of new stories, of characters that depart from those robot-like portraits, of more complex conflicts and issues. In Bear Cub (Cachorro), no one has any particular difficulty in assuming and accepting his sexual orientation, there is unrequited love, because the main character wants it that way, and AIDS is there, but it is not depicted as that awful scourge (the worst thing about it is that those who don't have it use it as a weapon). But of paramount importance above and beyond all of that, there is a child who has to be taken care of. Not because it is a right our main character has to fight for (it's not a film about brave heroes fighting for equality on every front, there are no de facto couples, adoption laws and stuff like that) but because life is very complicated and sometimes--in fact quite often--you've simply got to dig your heels in and work hard in order to make the most of what comes your way.
Bear Cub (Cachorro) is a rather disconcerting éducation sentimentale, with its fair dose of frenzied sex, tempered with the responsibility of bringing up a small child. A story of children that teach so much to adults and of adults who don't know what they could possibly teach kids. Of comic and absurd misunderstandings. Of painful quandaries and dilemmas. Of life and the commitment to life. Of commitment to one's self, and to those who need one.
Film Information Collapse
[BEARC] | 2004 | 99 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (Cachorro)
Premiere: New York
About the Director(s)Collapse
Born in Alicante, Spain in 1966, Miguel Albaladejo has worked as a production assistant and created several short films. In 1998, he made his feature film debut with La Primera Noche de mi Vida, part of a millennium project "2000 seen by…," produced by Arte, the Franco-German cultural broadcaster. His children's film, Manolito Gafotas (Manolito Four-Eyes) premiered at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival and has played in film festivals around the world. He has also directed El Cielo Abierto (Ten Days Without Love) (2001) starring Sergi Lopez and Rencor (Rancor) (2002) starring Cuban heartthrob Jorgé Perugorria.