A Broken Heart and Hopelessness Lead to ‘The Fall of the Swift’

A young man prepares to leave the town and his family behind to settle in a place far away from the scrutinizing eyes and judgment of society with his lover. However, things don’t go as planned, and he finds himself trapped in an inescapable situation. Find out what happens next in BLTai’s recap of the award-winning short film ‘The Fall of the Swift‘.

This thirteen-minute film, set in Bilbao, Spain, in the 1980s, won the Queer Palm at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Gonzalo Quincoces, it stars Lucas Ybarra as Kepa, a young worker who is facing not only an industrial reconversion that threatens his livelihood but also an opportunity to express love freely.


Warning: Spoilers alert. Read at your own risk.


It’s 1984 in Bilbao, Spain, and flocks of riots and protests happen all over the city due to the ongoing industrial reconversions threatening the livelihood of most people in the working class. Kepa sits in the backseat of German’s car, who also happens to be his co-worker, while they talk about how only their bosses or the rich make money from the ongoing industrialization. One of his friends, Borja, asks him where his younger brother Urko is, but Kepa answers that he told him not to come as he doesn’t want him to get into trouble, especially since he is still a minor. Borja expresses concern that Urko’s treatment could lead to his homosexuality, prompting Kepa to curse him. Sensing that Kepa and Borja are about to get into a heated argument, German shushes them off and threatens to trash them both. He also informs them that some other friends will be coming to meet them.


Earlier that day, Kepa packed up a few of his belongings in a discreet duffel bag. He also slides in money that he hides under his bed, but stops when he hears his mother calling from downstairs. His mother, who is currently cooking dinner, asks him to buy a loaf of bread and bring Urko home. On his way out, he passes by the living room, where his father is silently reading a book, and takes a long look at him. Before running his errands, Kepa calls someone using the public telephone, tells the person on the other line that he already has their tickets, and promises to meet them at the midnight bus. He also tells the other person on the line that he loves them before he hangs up. He then heads out to find Urko playing a soccer ball in an open space, and he joins him. As the brothers pass the ball from and to each other, Urko mentions that Borja invited him to go to the riot that will happen that night. Kepa immediately disagrees, but Urko continues to insist on going. The brothers start to argue to the point that Kepa uses their father’s health to discourage Urko from going, but the latter answers that their father will get a heart attack anyway. Kepa continues to say that he is not going, as he plans to leave town that night with the person he is dating. He also tells Urko that he is the only one who knows about his plans, but he assures him that he will not be that far away from them. Urko appears to be shocked, but he ultimately promises Kepa that he will no longer join the riot and tells him not to worry anymore. Later, Kepa puts some money that he saved under Urko’s bed before he decides to sit down on his younger brother’s bed to look at his bedroom for the last time. That is how their mother finds him and asks if he will be joining them for dinner, but Kepa declines and lies, saying that he has plans with German and Borja. He kisses his mom and tells her not to wait up for him, but he also promises to help his mother dye her hair as she requested.


Watch ‘The Fall of the Swift’ on GagaOOLala.

Kepa meets his boyfriend, Rober, in a secluded alley, and the two immediately cling to each other until he notices that the latter has no bag. To his surprise, Rober tells him that he cannot leave but is unable to say the reason why. Kepa tries to convince Rober to proceed with their plan, but the latter pushes his silver bracelet toward him instead and tells him to take it. Rober kisses Kepa for the last time before he walks away and never looks back. Back at home, Kepa furiously throws his belongings back into his drawers and tears apart their tickets. He then slips Rober’s bracelet on his wrist before joining German and Borja. German warns Kepa not to light a cigarette, citing the presence of an explosive in the car that the smoke could trigger. Sensing that tonight’s riot seems to be a dangerous one, Kepa decides to stay inside the car and wait for them to come back until he notices Urko coming out of one of the cars on the streets. He rushes to follow and stop Urko from joining the riot, but the street is already in chaos with people fighting each other. He finds Borja and gets mad at him for bringing his younger brother, but the latter simply answers that he no longer knows where Urko is. Finally, Kepa locates Urko, just as one of the opposing parties catches him and prepares to strike him with a baton. He pushes the person away from Urko and orders his younger brother to run as he begins to hit the person with the baton himself. Just then, police officers begin to arrive. Borja calls on Kepa to stop hitting the person on the ground as he pulls Urko with him to escape. Meanwhile, Kepa is already too clouded by his emotions and appears to not hear or notice the people around him. He only stops when he hears the police ordering him to drop the baton and show his hands. 

Inside the police car, Kepa watches the scenery from the window. He hears the police talking from their intercoms, saying that the riot has already stopped, and they were able to detain a minor by the name of Urko. Kepa remains silent while the police sirens continue to blast.

 

Writer’s Thoughts:

Despite being a fairly brief watch, ‘The Fall of the Swift’ manages to touch on a number of problems that affected society as a whole, as well as the LGBT community in the 1980s. The film explores the ease with which individuals employed by the wealthy can be uprooted, the resulting misery it causes, and how this can lead some to rebel or resort to violence. It also discusses how some individuals always put their families before themselves, regardless of their sexual orientation. Kepa demonstrates this by protecting Urko from the start, leaving money for him before he leaves town, and taking Urko’s place without hesitation. We can infer that Urko may have been impacted by seeing his brother stand up for him even if it isn’t stated explicitly as he also got caught later on. On the other hand, Rober’s decision to back out of his plans with Kepa is unknown, but we can presume that a part of him gave in to his dread of living a life different from what they had always found comfortable. At the end of the film, the once hopeful Kepa is unhappy, as the fall may have been too swift.

 

Enjoy watching ‘The Fall of the Swift’ on a bigger screen because GagaOOLala is now available to watch on your Smart TVs by downloading the app on Google Play, Amazon App Store, and Roku.

 

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