Review: ‘Heart of Time’

A politically loaded oddity shot in an indigenous Zapatista community in the Mexican state of Chiapas, "Heart of Time" won't win hearts as a dramatic feature and arguably should have been made as a nonfiction film.

A politically loaded oddity shot in an indigenous Zapatista community in the Mexican state of Chiapas, “Heart of Time” won’t win hearts as a dramatic feature and arguably should have been made as a nonfiction film. Nonetheless, as a docu-style view of how this alternative society is organized, pic teems with fascinating ideas. Basically propaganda shot on location, pic aims for authenticity; while it’s fine as a record of day-to-day activities, its insistence on literal truth has resulted in an unskilled, non-pro cast. Although project’s intentions transcend its accomplishments, pic still deserves further fest play.

Sonia (Rocio Barrios) is engaged to be married: Her dowry is a cow. Out walking in the jungle, she exchanges a sultry glance with guitar-playing Zapatista rebel Julio (Francisco Jimenez). Such a relationship reps a security threat to both the community and the rebels and is thus forbidden.

Meanwhile, the men struggle to bring electricity to this isolated jungle region as the women fight against the encroachment of government forces.

Sonia’s grandmother Zoraida (Dona Aurelia) lectures the girl on traditional virtues and the necessity of sacrifice, but Sonia has come to the conclusion that such sacrifice is not for her.

Pic opens up questions on the relationship between the political and the personal, the difficulty of social change and the inevitable tyranny of political systems. Although none of these questions is answered, helmer Alberto Cortes’ commitment to bringing the hidden lives of these people to light helps compensates for pic’s dramatic failings.

Images of poverty and struggle, visions of masked Zapatista rebels riding into town on horses and government helicopters flying overhead, suggest these are people who cannot escape history, but the film ends on a defiantly celebratory note.

Many thesps started the shoot with no idea of what a movie is, so dialogue is recited rather than performed.

Heart of Time

Mexico

Production

A Bataclan, Junta de Buen Gobiero "Hacia la Esperanza," FOPROCINE, Universidad de Guadalajara, DiPA, Cinefucio, IMCINE, Estudios Churubusco Azteca, Filmoteca de la UNAM, Imval production. (International sales: Latinofusion, Guadalajara, Mexico.) Produced by Ana Solares, Alberto Cortes. Directed by Alberto Cortes. Screenplay, Hermann Bellinghausen.

Crew

Camera (color), Marc Bellver; editors, Lucrecia Gutierrez Maupome, Cortes; music, Descemer Bueno, Kevis Ochoa; art director, Ana Solares; sound, Emilio Cortes. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi New Directors), Sept. 25, 2008. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Rocio Barrios, Francisco Jimenez, Marisela Rodriguez, Dona Aurelia, Leonardo Rodriguez.

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