A review of Horacio Reyes Páez’s award-winning short film Pillow by Maria Cabeza Alexander Havraneck, a 65-year-old Uruguayan living in Vienna, is struggling as he has to quarantine because of the global Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. Along the way he develops a special relationship with his pillow.
Equal parts comedy, fantasy and poetry, Pillow draws us into the daily routine of a lonely human being who is virtually reborn as he finds new meaning in his relationshiop with a humble pillow during the historic lockdown.
Pillow becomes a metaphor for the humanity of Alexander as he navigates his life during the pandemic. It is alive at all times and is engaged in a strange kind of ethereal yet animated relationship with Alexander. It is his companion during his existential, trance-like journey through a proverbial city of dreams. At one point this pillow accompanies Alexander into what appears to be his afterlife, where he meditates on the beauty of creation, as he navigates the Blue Danube and other iconic places in Vienna.
“The idea for Pillow came from Stephen Ellcock, the American art curator, who made a selection of works linked to the Lockdown [in 2020]. During the lockdown I also began to think about “pillows” from other eras. I became fascinated with pillows from 1493, drawn by Albrecht Dürer, which he probably sketched, during a confinement due to some illness,” Reyes Páez says. “Like everything else, Dürer gives pillows a life of their own, often inserting himself into his sketches – almost like a kind of secret ‘self-portrait’. I was impressed these mesmerising drawings reflected what we are currently experiencing with the quarantine, where everyday things are given new meaning, taking on a life of their own.
“I immediately thought of Alexander; we’ve been friends for 5 years and I always wanted to do something with him. So I summoned him and cast this poet, with his own quarantine who seemed to relate completely to the story of Dürer’s pillows. I aimed for a connection, a poetic turn as well. Naturally, and because of who he is, Alexander ends up playing himself who, in his quarantine solitude, finds a special connection with that everyday object which is his pillow. This pillow ceases to be a prop in the film and becomes a bridge for Alexander’s dreams [and ours], a bridge to cross over from the harshness of the pandemic into a new, albeit imagined, reality,” Reyes Páez says with a touch of irony.
Horacio Reyes Páez is a professional photographer; He is also a musician and has directed several highly successful films. He studied classical guitar with Álvaro Pierri- a great Uruguayan padagogue.
Reyes Páez is Uruguayan, based in Vienna, Austria. He is the son of Magdalena Paéz Vilaró, a noted plastic artist who avers that art is the language of the spirit. He is also the grandson of Carlos Páez Vilaró a painter, muralist and sculptor who also works with ceramics. Páez Vilaró is also a writer, composer and director.
Reyes Páez’s films are intimate. His work goes to the core of the human soul often revealing a disturbing reality. He demonstrated this in his short film Dance for the Apocalypse, which won the first prize in the Short Film Category at the José Ignacio International Film Festival in Uruguay. Pillow has also just won the first prize at the 2022 edition of the Jose Ignacio International FIlm Festival in that same [Short Film] category. It is also set to run in the Cannes Film Festival.