Tom Zubrycki, one of Australia’s top docu directors, has come up with a candid and moving portrait of a married couple who relocated to Australia from El Salvador at the height of that country’s civil war. Result is not only a study of displaced people, but a portrait of a marriage that is profoundly affected by the changes in circumstances. It’s a gripping docu.
Zubrycki, himself the son of Polish refugees in Australia, is extremely sympathetic to both his protagonists, Maria and Carlos Robles. Film commences on Feb. 1, 1992, in Melbourne, as the Robles and their four daughters celebrate the end of the war in their far-off homeland. It’s revealed that both Maria and Carlos had participated in the struggle for freedom, and that Maria had been tortured and raped by the military.
Carlos immediately decides to return home. Maria, left alone in Australia with her children, speaks English far better than her husband, is aware that her daughters have become completely Australianized, and is torn between her new home and her native land.
Eventually she returns to El Salvador to find that her husband has been involved with another woman. Still, she acknowledges he’s been doing great work in a poor village, and she’s prepared to forgive him if he returns to his family.
Even if Carlos comes out second best, both display courage, especially Maria, who bares her soul to the camera with startling candor.
Zubrycki and editor Ray Thomas have shaped the material into a seamless drama , and result is an accessible and moving documentary. Technical credits are all first-rate.