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War Takes

A film diary sporadically kept by three filmmakers over four years charts the worsening political situation in Colombia. Garrulous non-stop narration by Adelaida Trujillo, one of the trio, fills in contemporaneous events and biographical detail, nervously voicing the fears of the educated, liberal middle class.

A film diary sporadically kept by three filmmakers over four years charts the worsening political situation in Colombia. Garrulous non-stop narration by Adelaida Trujillo, one of the trio, fills in contemporaneous events and biographical detail, nervously voicing the fears of the educated, liberal middle class. Mix of hyper-subjectivity and political analysis proves illuminating, but may be too unsettling for American auds: Adelaida’s little boy runs away after his mother forces him to name what he is afraid of (the guerillas), screaming for her to stop filming, which she only eventually does.

The filmmakers extrapolate on private home movies, including trips to various potentially dangerous parts of the country. These are supplemented with brief history lessons on the regions visited, further illustrated with archival montages.

The image of Colombia that emerges, though related to the drug- and violence-drenched hotspot featured on CNN, delivers quite a few surprises, including the fact cocoa was not grown in Colombia until 1989 when a U.S.-spearheaded breaking of the coffee pact drastically altered the economy.

The drug business, in turn, radically impacted the political scene, as both left-wing guerillas and right-wing paramilitary groups used the drug trade to finance their quickly growing ranks.

Agonizingly conflicted, like many of her countrymen, Adelaida’s sees her vote drift to the right as kidnappings escalate and the war moves from the countryside to the city where she lives. Meanwhile, her collaborator/co-director Patricia Castano holds steadfast to her left-wing ideals, in contrast to her more conservative husband. At one point, kidnap threats drive the couple to flee Bogota, touring Europe and reconnecting with their children, who live in England.

It’s an option not extended to the hundreds of thousands of displaced peasants Colbert Garcia, a third collaborator and a human rights activist, befriends and films. In the course of his travels, Colbert meets, falls in love with and marries a reporter. A scene of him popping the question is cut into interviews with peasants who have set up “peace villages” despite frequent deadly raids by the paramilitary.

Tech credits are hit-and-miss; “subjective-camera” hand-held lensing is rarely inspired, and sound quality varies greatly in clarity.

War Takes

Colombia

Production: A Faction Films/Citurna production for D-ZDF -- Das Kleine Fernsehapiel. Produced by Sylvia Stevens. Directed by Patricia Castano, Adelaida Trujillo.

Crew: Camera (color, DV) Castano, Trujillo, Colbert Garcia; editor, Monica Henriquez; music, Ian Hill; sound, Gustavo de la Hoz; associate director, Henriquez; assistant director Garcia. Reviewed at Human Rights Watch Festival, New York, June 26, 2003. Running time: 78 MIN. (English narration, Spanish dialogue)

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