Review: ‘Operation Libertad’

Failing as both a mock-doc and a leftist tract, Swiss director Nicolas Wadimoff's wishy-washy "Operation Libertad" follows young '70s-era Zurich revolutionaries whose ambiguously courageous attempt to expose capitalist corruption ends badly for all involved.

Failing as both a mock-doc and a leftist tract, Swiss director Nicolas Wadimoff’s wishy-washy “Operation Libertad” follows young ’70s-era Zurich revolutionaries whose ambiguously courageous attempt to expose capitalist corruption ends badly for all involved. Sporadic humor results from the group’s amateurish involvement in the kidnapping of a big-shot businessman; more common are the frustration and boredom that come with banal dialogue, noncommittal politics and a predictably downward-spiraling narrative. By default, the mostly unseen cameraman implausibly shooting hi-def images circa 1978 seems the film’s most believable character. Exhibition beyond a limited number of alt venues in Europe appears unlikely.

The pic opens with a man in his mid-50s combing through old videotapes and recalling a period when, decades ago, he documented the efforts of anti-capitalist kids to get media coverage of their abduction of Vilas (Antonio Buil), a Chilean official with knowledge of the connection between Pinochet and the Swiss economy. The film’s subsequent flashback is presented through the lens of young Hughes, who remains behind a camera that manages, via Wadimoff’s cutting, to appear in two or three places at once.

Operation Libertad

Switzerland-France

Production

A Dschoint Ventschr (Switzerland), Akka Films (France) production, with the support of Bundesamt fur Kultur, Zurcher Filmstiftung, Le Fonds Regio & La Loterie Romande, the City & Canton of Geneva, Focal, Fonction Cinema, RTS Radio Television Suisse-SRG, SSR, Suissimage. (International sales: Doc & Film Intl., Paris.) Produced by Samir, Nicolas Wadimoff. Executive producers, Tunje Berns, Joelle Bertossa. Co-producers, Alberto Chollet, Serge Lalou, Charlotte Uzu, Michel Merkt. Directed by Nicolas Wadimoff. Screenplay, Jacob Berger, Wadimoff.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Franck Rabel; editors, Karine Sudan, Pauline Dairou; production designer, Georg Bringolf; costume designer, Cidalia da Costa. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 22, 2012. Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Laurent Capelluto, Stipe Erceg, Natacha Koutchoumov, Karine Guignard, Nuno Lopes, Antonio Buil. (French, German, Spanish dialogue)

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