A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

film and television
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

INNOCENT VOICES (article first published : 2005-12-9)

An arresting, if harrowing, human drama, inspired by a true story and centred on a child facing the horrors encountered during the 12-year civil war which devastated his homeland, El Salvador, from 1980, Innocent Voices is a subtitled film based on the memoirs of co-writer Oscar Orlando Torres. That war, originally over land disputes, raged between government-sponsored soldiers, trained by the Americans, and peasant guerrillas, and led to the deaths of some 75,000 people, before a UN-sponsored peace treaty.

Director Luis Mandoki, a Mexican whose American movies include Message in a Bottle and When a Man Loves a Woman, depicts the hardships and horrors of the time through the eyes of 11-year-old Chava (Carlos Padilla), who lives in a wood-and-iron shackland, not unlike squatter camps here, with his burdened mother Kella (Leonor Verela, who played Cleopatra in the mini-series of the same name), his chubby sister and his younger brother.

Life in the muddy, impoverished village, constantly pelted with torrential rain, becomes a constant battle for survival after Chava's father deserts the family to head for America at the start of the war.

Not only is there poverty to contend with, but also the presence of armed soldiers who continually roam the streets seeking guerrillas and who engage in terrifying night attacks which send bullets whizzing through the paper-thin homes without notice. Even more terrifying is that troops constantly enlist terrified boys for military training - simply snatching them from schools and homes when they reach the age of 12, their hysterical, weeping mothers pushed aside as they are marched off, soiling themselves in panic and fear.

It becomes a particularly dangerous time for Chava, who is close to turning 12, especially when his mother's job forces him to be head of the household at night when cradling his wailing younger siblings in his arms, under a bed, to avoid bullets, becomes a ritual. As the war escalates, so Chava's troubles are exacerbated. School is cancelled, the boy has less opportunity to see his new girlfriend, Cristina Maria (Xuna Primus), and his uncle, Beto (Jos Maria Yzapik), a member of the resistance, is forced to make secret visits.

Featuring a superb cast, with a stand-out performance from newcomer Padilla, who is astonishingly convincing, Innocent Voices is a powerful film, an effective and affecting examination of man's inhumanity to man, a thought-provoking look at power, abuse and the strength of the human spirit.

Running close on two hours, it's a film that proved a hit at last year's Toronto Film Festival and which was last year's best foreign language film candidate from Mexico. See it! Rating: 8/10. - Billy Suter




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart