A film essay in tableaux, FUTURES MARKET traces the connections between memory, public space, and the real estate bubbles that led to the international financial crisis.
Beginning with Greek lyric poet Simonides of Ceos' invention of the 'memory palace' - in which memories are arranged in an imagined physical space - the film suggests that the recent flurry of credit-fueled property development has depleted not only national treasuries, but the distinctive characters of these nation's cities -- and therefore, their cultural memory as well.
FUTURES MARKETS takes us inside the fluorescent-lit showrooms of real estate expos, where developers hawk shares in hotel and condo projects in places from Dubai to Miami. Outside, cars crawl forward on endless stretches of anonymous highway whose "straight lines point in the direction of promises." This is Spain, but it could be almost anywhere in the world.
"The art of memory was practiced by philosophers, poets, and architects", a narrator tells us. In the film we see the art of forgetting is practiced by the real estate developers, as well as business school gurus - who pledge the keys to success in the same convention centers. Meanwhile, investment bankers bark orders into multiple phones, trading futures in their non-descript offices. All peddle the same dream: a tidy and prosperous future in identical spaces the world over.
To make room for these new dreams, history must be evacuated. FUTURES MARKET meditates on great art works from the past by painters like Bosch, Michelangelo, Mantegna, and Raphael. The grand philosophical and spiritual visions represented in their paintings have been replaced by the vulgar ones embodied by the glass tower condos and infinity pools in gleaming architectural models.
A modest alternative is offered with the introduction of Jesus Castro, a 92-year-old junk dealer more interested in collecting than selling. We watch movers cleaning out an apartment in an old building slated for demolition, bagging up the books, furniture, and religious artifacts that bespeak a particular cultural identity. They turn up in the new repository of cultural memory: not a palace, but Castro's flea market. His stubborn refusal to bow to the marketplace's demand to forget makes him the hero of this film, which illustrates how little most of us choose to remember.
"A compelling meditation on dreams that doubles as an expose of how cheap those dreams have become, 'Futures Market' is a wise and fulfilling film that bears lofty comparison with the work of Spanish maestro helmers Victor Erice and Jose Luis Guerin." —Variety
Jury Special Mention, 2011 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI)
2011 Visions du Réel
2012 International Film Festival Rotterdam
2011 BFI London Film Festival
2011 Valdivia International Film Festival
2011 Barcelona Festival La Alternativa
2012 Melbourne International Film Festival
"Draw[s] attention to the invisible architects of the postmodern economy at the moment before it crashed, and...between what is discarded and devalued and the inflation of false values and dreams." —Sight & Sound
"Devilishly funny." —Louis Proyect, Counterpunch
"Įlvarez, like [Chris] Marker, is a master of the essay film. She trusts the viewer to make meaning of her juxtapositions, repetitions, and color-saturated tableaux." —Janina Ciezadlo, Afterimage