×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Impunity

Many war-torn countries struggle to find a post-conflict equilibrium between coexistence and accountability. Judging by Juan Jose Lozano and Hollman Morris' docu "Impunity," the Colombian government's much-touted Peace and Justice initiative is doing a poor, patently hypocritical job of it.

With:
With: Ever ("HH") Veloza, Gustavo Gallon, Luis Gonzales, Hernan Giraldo, Jorge Laverde, Ivan Cepeda, Alirio Uribe Munoz, Claudia Lopez. Narrators: Jean Leclerc, Emiliano Suarez, Nathan Wilcocks. (Spanish dialogue)

Many war-torn countries struggle to find a post-conflict equilibrium between coexistence and accountability. Judging by Juan Jose Lozano and Hollman Morris’ docu “Impunity,” the Colombian government’s much-touted Peace and Justice initiative is doing a poor, patently hypocritical job of it. Beginning with a woman’s emotional account of her 12-year-old brother’s decapitation and ending with the hurried extradition of key witnesses before they can name the powerful figures behind the widespread carnage, pic covers the harrowing history of the war and the tragic sham of the ongoing trials (six years and counting). Clear-eyed docu merits a niche run before cable beckons.

In 2005, the Colombian government under President Uribe offered right-wing paramilitary soldiers reduced sentences of five to eight years if they laid down their arms and confessed their crimes. They were accused of torturing, slaughtering and “disappearing” more than 400,000 civilians and forcibly displacing millions from their land. “Impunity” mainly consists of the accused’s videotaped testimony intercut with peasants’ reactions, contrasting the cold-blooded enumeration of atrocities by those who committed them with the grief of those who suffered them.

The film (based on an idea by Lozano’s close collaborator, Hollman Morris) shows relatives of the disappeared pouring into Bogota to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit TV in designated “victims’ rooms.” Their questions concerning the fates of their loved ones are relayed to those on trial, who generally plead ignorance and promise to ask around. Higher-ranking members of the paramilitary have resisted the trials altogether through legal technicalities or, covertly, through the assassinations of witnesses, activists, judges and jurors; many now hold government positions.

But the interminable information-gathering portion of the trials, indicated by shots of thousands of pages piled high in dusty offices, takes an abrupt turn. When paramilitary officers declare under oath that the government (in collusion with banana plantation owners, sugar magnates and other business interests) ordered massacres targeting opposition leaders and union members, and drove entire villages of peasants off land earmarked for other purposes, the whistle-blowers are quickly bundled off to the U.S. to face less controversial drug and money-laundering indictments.

Before being extradited, the most vocal defendant, one “HH,” remarks, “When we say that we cut off a peasant’s head, raped his wife and stole his land, nobody is shocked … but when we talk about who profited, we are attacked.”

Government representatives extravagantly laud the tribunal, while historians, reporters and human-rights advocates decry the charade. A Colombian jurist’s tally of the Peace and Justice Law’s results corroborates the latter opinion: Of 31,600 demobilized paramilitary members, 3,600 were held for prosecution, 600 were tried and only two were convicted.

Impunity

Docu - Colombia-France-Switzerland

Production: An Intermezzo Films & Dolce Vita Films production in co-production with La Radio Television Suisse, Arte, Morris Producciones. (International sales: Autlook Films, Vienna.) Produced by Isabelle Gattiker, Marc Irmer. Executive producers, Juan Pablo Morris, Lilian Rincon. Directed by Juan Jose Lozano, Hollman Morris. Written by Lozano, based on an original idea by Morris.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Sergio Mejia, Heidi Hassan, Diego Barajas, Felipe Montoya, Alexander Restrepo; editor, Ana Acosta; music, Vincent Hanni, Gabriel Scotti; sound (Dolby Digital), Carlos Ibanez, Julian Gomez, Larva Peruzotti. Reviewed at Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New York, June 24, 2011. Running time: 84 MIN.

With: With: Ever ("HH") Veloza, Gustavo Gallon, Luis Gonzales, Hernan Giraldo, Jorge Laverde, Ivan Cepeda, Alirio Uribe Munoz, Claudia Lopez. Narrators: Jean Leclerc, Emiliano Suarez, Nathan Wilcocks. (Spanish dialogue)

More Film

  • Marco Bellocchio The Traitor Cannes

    The Match Factory Sells Marco Bellocchio's 'The Traitor' Around The World

    The Match Factory has closed-out deals on Marco Bellocchio’s ‘The Traitor’ for most of the world following the Mafia drama’s Cannes competition premiere which has propelled the pic to the number two spot on Italy’s box office chart. Besides Sony Pictures Classic’s previously announced acquisition of “The Traitor” for North and Latin America, Scandinavia, Australia [...]

  • Aladdin

    China Box Office: 'Aladdin' Opens on Top With $19 Million Weekend

    Disney’s “Aladdin” opened on top of the Chinese box office with a less than magical $18.7 million debut weekend. According to data from Artisan Gateway, the film beat previous chart winner “Detective Pikachu” which earned $7.5 million in its third weekend. That score advances the cumulative China total for “Pikachu” to $83.3 million. The Guy [...]

  • 'Nina Wu' Review: Stylish, Glitchy, Provocative

    Cannes Film Review: 'Nina Wu'

    “They don’t just want to take my body, they want to take my soul!” So runs the overripe line of dialogue that actress Nina Wu (Wu Kexi) has to repeat again and again in “Nina Wu,” the fascinating, glitchy, stylish, and troublesome new film from Taiwanese director Midi Z (“The Road to Mandalay”). Nina practices [...]

  • 'All About Yves" Review: Feeble French

    Cannes Film Review: 'All About Yves'

    Benoit Forgeard’s dorky “All About Yves,” bizarrely chosen as the closing film of 2019’s Directors’ Fortnight selection in Cannes, is literally about an intelligent refrigerator that ascends to Eurovision fame as a rapper. Imagine Spike Jonze’s “Her” played for the cheapest of laughs, shorn of atmosphere, and absent all melancholic insight into our relationship with [...]

  • 'The Bare Necessity' Review: Offbeat, Charming

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Bare Necessity'

    A perfectly charmant way to, as the song has it, forget about your worries and your strife for 100 airy minutes, writer-director Erwan le Duc’s “The Bare Necessity” is a breezy little sweetheart of a debut, that threatens to give the rather ominous description “quirky French romantic comedy” a good name. In its dappled countryside [...]

  • Adam

    Cannes Film Review: 'Adam'

    With her debut feature “Adam,” Maryam Touzani allows her audience to sit back and relax comfortably into a beautifully made, character-driven little gem that knows when and how to touch all the right buttons. Taking the stories of two women, both frozen in existential stasis, and bringing them together in a predictable yet deeply satisfying [...]

  • 'To Live to Sing' Review: A

    Cannes Film Review: 'To Live to Sing'

    After his taut, impressive debut “Old Stone” which tracked with nightmarish relentlessness the high cost of compassion in modern urban China, Canadian-Chinese director Johnny Ma loosens his grip a little to deliver a softer, if not necessarily less pessimistic examination of the failing fortunes of a regional Sichuan Opera troupe. “To Live to Sing” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content