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Anne Lise Maulin
Andres and his 12 year old son Pedro lives in a blue-collar violent neighborhood in the outskirts of Caracas but hardly see each other. One day Andres comes home Pedro has gotten himself in serious trouble after hurting a boy in a fight.
A controversial photography exhibit about atrocities committed by the German army on the Eastern Front during World War II inspired Ruth Beckermann to interview soldiers about their experiences beyond the bounds of "normal" warfare.
At the end of the 80's, by the creeks of the Arauca river, near the Colombian-Venezuelan border, two men survived the brutality of a shooting in which 14 of their mates were killed. They claimed to be mere fishermen, but the Venezuelan army accused them to be guerrilla fighters, intimidating them in every possible way and even attempting to remove them from the cell where they were guarded by a policeman. Their neighbors prevented their transfer, but the pressure they faced to give in and submit the official version was overwhelming.
I had the opportunity to appreciate this work at the Festival del Cine Venezolano 2017 in Mérida. In spite of the great technical flaws that the event had, which could be due to the economic problems of Venezuela or lack of organization (maybe a bit of both), I found one of the most tense films that has been seen so far. I was born in 1998 and did not know about the history of the El Amparo massacre until I observed the work. When I left the cinema I went and talked with my father who was 12 years old at that time and I was surprised by the facts. The incredible fidelity that was used in the film is worthy of admiration, the way my father told me the story when he saw it on television in 1988 was the same as I felt when he first met her when he was in the movie theater 30 years after the events.
Like my father, I had an intrigue to know the truth, but that the same film does not let discover. How did two men survive? How did they feel? How much did they swim to be safe? . My father asked me if that was clarified in the film and I said no. So he will continue with the mystery for the rest of his life.
The film says more in the moments where we simply do not see or know anything, working the tension and the suspense in an excellent way. The public in the room was shocked to see the work and even felt empathy for its protagonists, who are being accused and condemned by the government of Venezuela (of that time) for some acts that they did not perform. Much coincidence that at the time of the premiere, Venezuela was going through one of its biggest crises during the protests of more than 3 months where the government murdered hundreds of young people and went unpunished, as in the work.
The saddest thing of all is that maybe I will not see her again, given the big problems with Venezuelan cinema that are not given a fair time to national films in movie theaters, in addition to the constant censorship by the government. I wish you a long life in foreign cinemas and I hope someday this work deserves the honors it deserves in our nation.
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