Between the way-too-expensive cake her daughter wants for her birthday and the drunken ways of her hubby, the life of the titular heroine isn’t exactly a bed of roses in “Choco.” Protag is a part of the black community on Colombia’s Pacific coast, and her hard-knock life is sketched by rookie writer-helmer Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza in vivid tableaux. This 80-minute dark fable has some arty longueurs but will work the fest circuit thanks to its ethnographic angle and the raw power of its storytelling.
Choco (Karent Hinestroza, excellent) mines gold manually with the women from the village (interestingly, the pic shows only black and Metis characters throughout). When Choco arrives late again for work, she’s fired. But she’s a saint compared with her musician hubby (Esteban Copete), who drinks away their meager earnings and forces himself on her at night. Choco’s promise to give her daughter (Daniela Mosquera) a birthday cake leads to a debasing deal with the local shopkeeper/bar owner (Fabio Restrepo) that humiliates her enough to make her realize she has to fight back. Sharp HD lensing, dominated by saturated greens and browns, reps the tech standout.