Hot Docs 2017: Donkeyote
Manolo is a Spanish shepherd and rancher in his seventies, and he has one small bit of wanderlust he wishes to complete in his life. He wants to take his trusty (but stubborn) donkey Gorrión to the United States and hike the Trail of Tears, on which the Cherokee nation was forced to march West. Manolo speaks of the trip warmly, and his remarks combined with his age give the viewer the feeling that he’s looking for “one last trip” with his cherished mount.
The verité style in which Donkeyote is presented provides a lot of room for the quiet moments between Manolo and Gorrión to breathe, and those moments grant keen insight into the personal and intimate relationship between the two. Gorrión in particular is shown to have a fun personality in these scenes, and to be quite gentle in interacting with the world around him. His stubbornness comes shining through in some key moments in the documentary, though, when it comes to crossing over water. It’s a funny, quiet moment between man and donkey that stands to represent Manolo’s story overall in the film.
That’s because, as we quickly learn, Manolo has the desire to travel to the US and walk the Trail, but has a great lot of preparation to make that trip possible. There’s also the matter of paying for the excursion. Manolo, himself, can’t.
The bulk of Donkeyote follows his preparation for the trip and following up on efforts to secure funding. But that story takes a backseat to the relationship Manolo and Gorrión have, and it’s largely found in the quieter moments. It’s a touching enough relationship, and Manolo’s drive to trek the United States is so relatable, that the success or failure of his attempt becomes an afterthought. The time spent with him is like visiting with an elderly relative. And his donkey.