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Looking for the Revolution (2007)

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Rodrigo Vazquez ...
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Evo Morales ...
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September 2007 (UK)  »

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Plenty of food for thought in a well made, insightful and interesting film
9 December 2007 | by See all my reviews

Filmmaker Rodrigo Vazquez is a regular in Bolivia. Exploring the country's problems he found himself returning year after year to film the military fighting the war on drugs by destroying some amounts of cocaine recovered at makeshift production areas around the jungle. Each time it is never long before the peasants grow more of the only crop that really makes them money. Finn watched as coca farmer Evo Morales led a uprising of the common people by harnessing the power of anti-American feeling. With this film Vazquez follows Morales into power and specifically films working single mother Jiovana Navia as she is elected into parliament by her poor constituents.

The "Why Democracy?" season on BBC4 was yet another excellent answer to the tabloids that call for it to be dumped because "nobody watches it". Sure it has few viewers but the quality of programming both in individual shows or in themed seasons is rarely uninteresting or banal – words that frequently come to mind when scanning the schedules for channels with significantly higher ratings. Looking for the Revolution is yet another example of what BBC4 and Storyville are doing for viewers who are looking for more than Eastenders and home improvement shows as it looks at the political revolution in Bolivia – not a topic that often makes it to the bigger channels. The focus of the film is on the political revolution as led by Morales, looking out for the little people and we follow Navia as "one of the workers" who goes into power with lots of promises and hopes to represent and help her people.

What happens within the film is not that Navia forgets her promises or that she gets busy looking after herself but simply that she cannot get anywhere on the subjects she was elected on and the frustration grows on her. The film does state that the revolution is still just a dream but it doesn't come out and say it is impossible – although I imagine that is cold comfort to the people in Bolivia for whom things are little better than they were. What the film made me think was how difficult it is to make real change anywhere. The reality of day-to-day governing, of finding the money, of endless meetings, of political disagreements over how things will be done (not just what will be done) and so on. It is sad to see Navia turned on by those who honestly believed that she would be able to bring change to their lives but perhaps it is understandable why it happened.

I'm not sure what has happened since the film finished but I don't think that it is a major weakness of the film that it leaves us on a bleak, open note. In doing this it achieves its main aim, which was to ask questions about the revolution and the ability of politics to change things for the poorest and most disaffected groups. It doesn't aim to totally answer that question but by following Navia, it does make for food for thought for the viewer.


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