Gaucho Americano (2021) Hot Docs Review (Written by Anna Miller)

Gaucho Americano is one of the films premiering at the Hot Docs Film Festival this year, and it’s by an accomplished Chilean director who often also doubles as his own cinematographer: Nicolás Molina. 

The documentary follows two hardworking Patagonian Gauchos who come to America to do farm work, learn the ways of the trade in a new culture and make enough money for a living for back home. One gaucho is Joaquin Agüil, a middle aged, experienced man, nostalgic for his country and missing his family. On top of exhaustive ranch work, he is taxed with the stress of worrying about family from back home and a son who, for unknown reasons, is not returning his calls. 

The other gaucho we follow is Victor Jara, an optimistic man in his late 20s who tries hard to improve his english, communicate with American ranchers and soak up this western lifestyle he has immersed himself in. 

The fact that the film follows both of these men is essential, for their own perspectives and individual stories provide unique lenses for which the audience can view their experience through. With these distinctions emphasized per each Gaucho, we see a similar situation told with two unique perspectives. 

Through the camerawork and cinematography, Molina pushes the viewer close to the action; we are given an immersive front row seat to the emotion and the beauty that is showcased throughout the film. We are closeup witnesses to both the physical and inner journey that these men go through, and the camera work accentuates their experience in the closest way we can get to being in their perspective.

The gorgeous landscape that makes up the South Western United States is exquisitely captured by Molina- he utilizes drones to film stunning rolling hills dotted with sheep, wide shots of the gauchos loping through grassy plains on their horses during dusk and closeups of the action that’s involved in hunting a puma that has treed itself or herding hundreds upon hundreds of sheep using horses, dogs and the Gauchos themselves.

It is a feat in itself— how raw and authentic the film feels. During an interview, Molina expressed how he is very passionate about telling human stories as well as using his films to spread awareness about issues involving the environment and global warming. 

Not only that, but his films have been able to reach people from small towns to huge metropolises; these stories he works to share about people from all over the world are now reaching people around the globe. Nicolás Molina is truly making his mark as a documentary filmmaker. His projects are capable of leaving a lasting impact and much like the emotional final shot of this stunning doc, Gaucho Americano is no exception.

Gaucho Americano gets a 4/5!!