El Fantasma Image

El Fantasma

By Alan Ng | December 15, 2021

When Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, amongst his possessions was the name and phone number of Silvia Durán from Mexico City. Based on actual events, filmmaker Arturo R. Jiménez’s short film, El Fantasma, follows Oswald on that fateful trip.

In hopes of emigrating to the Soviet Union, Lee Harvey Oswald (Ellar Coltrane) is at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City. He plans to fly to Cuba and then to the U.S.S.R. But first, Oswald needs a Soviet Visa before his paperwork can be processed. Hoping to help, consulate employee Silvia Durán (Fernanda Rivera) offers to help once the Visa is approved. She then slips Oswald her name and phone number.

“…amongst his possessions was the name and phone number of Silvia Durán from Mexico City.”

El Fantasma wonders what the relationship between Oswald and Durán would be like. Writer/director Jiménez and actor Coltrane paint Oswald as an introspective loner rejected by his country and by life. Fernanda Rivera gives Oswald a sympathetic comrade in Durán, who empathizes with Oswald’s views about the political state of the world and its treatment of the working class.

Visually, Jiménez does a fantastic job recreating 1960s Mexico City. This is especially impressive for a low-budget independent short film. So much of the look came from finding suitable locations coupled with astute set design and costuming. Sure, an extra million dollars would have made the production design perfect, but how much fun would that be?

This story is an interesting one. Very little, if anything, is known about the actual piece of paper in Oswald’s pocket. Did the real Durán work at the consulate? Could she have been someone he met at a bar or a random stranger he met during a chance encounter? The mystery could have gone in an infinite number of directions. El Fantasma uses the mysterious Durán to explore the philosophy and beliefs of Oswald and, in another random moment, challenges those beliefs.

El Fantasma (2021)

Directed and Written: Arturo R. Jiménez

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Fernanda Rivera, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

El Fantasma Image

"…the mystery could have gone in an infinite number of directions."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon