If you were to visualize your own death, how would it look like?
And if you were to die today, are you prepared?
Sorry for putting you off guard for a moment. But in these questions, we see how death is one of those subjects most of us never confront or bluntly pay attention to, especially when we’re so focused on the future or surviving life on a daily basis. Uncertainty scares us, but every now and then, thinking about death is a good way of reflecting whether we have truly lived.
What does it mean to live, then? Choosing your own path? Loving and being loved? Essentially,it signifies a lot of things, depending on the experiences of each person. But in Claudia Pinto Emperador’s "The Longest Distance" (La Distancia Mas Larga), one can witness the fearless journeys of individuals who struggle to live and to choose their own destiny.
Set in the contrasting sides of Venezuela—from the urban, chaotic city of Caracas to the peaceful, rural mountain ranges of Roraima, south of the Amazon—the film tells the story of two different journeys about life, death, and the distance in between. When Lucas (Oscar Moya) lost his mother to senseless violence, he decides to travel all by himself and live with his cancer-stricken grandmother Martina (Carme Elias), whom he has never met. His expedition through the countryside is twisted with Martina’s preparation to take one last trip of her own, but the two share a bond along the way as they seek comfort and reconciliation.
This feature debut has also won awards in the Cleveland International Film Festival 2014, Huelva Latin American Film Festival 2013 and Montreal World Film Festival 2013.
Watching "The Longest Distance" can be such an introspective process, that you might actually learn not just one, nor two, but 8 lessons about this bittersweet, soul-searching journey we call life.
It’s a harsh reality, my friend, and they’re everywhere—appearing in the co-worker who took all the credit for a project you’ve spent all night working on, the bully who scarred you in your childhood, a pickpocket who inconspicuously steals in the MRT, or screwed-up hoodlums who chase innocent women and shoot guns at whoever they please.
At times, the bad guy could take the name of ‘cruel fate.’ It could also be you, whether you deliberately choose to be one or not. Because optimism aside, we humans are capable of hurting others and being hurt, especially by those closest to us.Despite the best intentions, the means and the outcomes could dreadfully go out of hand.
When confronted by life with a series of unfortunate events tailored just for you, the prospect can be so tempting. In no time, you find yourself packing your essentials to take that midnight train going anywhere. And like spur-of-the-moment decisions, it’s one of the most selfish things a person could ever do. Take for example Lucas, who flees from home and leaves behind a father who’s worried out of his wits trying to figure out where his son might have been and whether he’s safe or not.
On the other hand, running away involves a lot of risk and requires some courage to jump into the unknown, no matter how cowardly it may appear to be. Because in this case of a kid who feels the utmost need to escape the suffocating city and to see a grandmother he never knew, it might just turn out to be what he truly needs.
Aside from his grandmother, Lucas also encounters Kayemo (Alec Whaite), a penniless stranger (who could be a dangerous criminal, for all we know)that suddenly became his temporary big brother as they travel together, setting off a unique friendship between the two.
As part of life’s many surprises, unlikely friendships exist not only in the animal kingdom, but in our own experiences too. When you look back, you would realize there’s at least one person in your life whom you have nothing in common with, but deeply care about.
What can they say? Like magnetic poles and many paradoxes about life, opposites do attract.
In the long run, it’s almost like pushing yourself to stay afloat on a ceaseless ocean, only to get swallowed up by the angry waves; or an endless cycle of problems in various degrees beating you down, challenging you to get back on your feet, only to trip you once more. And when you’re on your knees another time, more tired than ever, there goes your cue to stand.
Tribulations keep the journey interesting and in the end, worth every pain. Even though they knock the wind out of you, you’d feel your lungs panting for air, letting you know you’re still alive.
It may seem absurd to keep on swimming but most of us, driven by an indomitable will, choose to do it anyway.
Martina says, “or sometimes, the opposite happens. We think we’re close to somebody, but in fact we’re far away.”
While love builds bridges that somehow alleviate the physical (and even metaphysical) distance, forgiveness holds the power to ease even the longest of emotional distances.
Despite the countless times you’ve sensed that you screwed up all your shots on happiness or at least, getting things right for once. Other possibilities may not appear in ways you expected, and are often overlooked.
In the film, Kayemo shows that second chances are not always the last. A lot can happen or change in a few days, and all the more in the whole life ahead. So don’t you worry, it’s not the end of the world.
Or at least, the persons whom we already consider as family, even if it means going on great lengths to save them from any “unnecessary pain,” and being willing to die alone in a freaking mountain.
Nonetheless, consider how they would feel if you ever do such thing. It doesn’t really hurt to know that they too are capable of sacrificing their own comforts just to take care of their loved ones, not because they feel obliged, but rather out of love.
Circumstances may block certain roads but open several paths. How your journey goes is all in your hands: how you deal with obstacles, how you treat your companions, how you make every day count, and given the opportunity, how you want to die.
The chorus of this Barbra Streisand song speaks of the same sentiments. Maybe in the end, there’s no such decision as right or wrong; only lessons to be learned.
What other life lessons have you learned from your favorite movies? "The Longest Distance" airs on CinemaWorld this month. The channel is available in Metro Manila on Cable Link on channel 301 and on Sky Cable HD on channel 184. Contact your cable operator for more details and please share your thoughts in the Comments Section below.