Oscar Ruiz Navia's sophomore feature Los Hongos – Spanish for The Mushrooms – follows two Colombian artists, Calvin and Ras, as they take to the streets with their paint buckets, only to be attacked by iron-fisted Colombian police.
Set in Cali, Colombia, the film attempts to weave together several plotlines: graffiti, troubled teens, classism and an oppressive regime. Instead, the outcome feels aimless and underdeveloped.
At the start of the film, the boys find inspiration in Egypt's 2011 uprising and decide to join the ranks of the city's leading graffiti artists, who are preparing for a grand mural. They watch a YouTube documentary shot in Cairo during the revolt, and decide what they will paint. From then on, however, the story wanders off in several directions.
When they are not painting, Calvin (Calvin Buenaventura) is either attending to his sick grandmother or getting the cold shoulder from his sexually confused girlfriend. On the other side of town, Ras (Jovan Alexis Marquinez) is seen trying to resist his mother's ongoing preaching on matters of religion and the importance of voting.
The duo is likable, but the storyline fails to bring out the forte of their relationship.
In one scene, Calvin is on his bike next to Ras, who is on his skateboard and rests his arm on Calvin as they speed down the street, but the camera quickly shifts to an unrelated shot.
For the remainder of the film, Navia opts for long, fixed shots that continue to be assembled at a slow pace.
Los Hongos is showing again on Friday, 14 November at 8pm.
Check out the festival's complete programme and Ahram Online's recommendations here.