Sunday, 5 April 2015

Burden of Peace (Very Good, 5/5)- Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London

A gripping documentary about a Latin American country that still suffers from its past scars. Impunity, corruption and cries for justice is an usual topic in Guatemala. However one woman decided to stand-up and make a difference: Claudia Paz y Paz.

When two Dutch filmmakers heard about the story of violence and impunity in Guatemala, this would be the start of a new journey. Human Rights militant and lawyer Claudia Paz y Paz was  appointed General Attorney in Guatemala and decided to give fresh air to a bureaucratic and inefficient Judiciary system. It would be a new start for the country and people's trust in Justice was being rebuilt. However this was not her only purpose: she targeted previous military dictators from the 1980s who decided with lightness to kill supposed conspiring communists. An too old story well known in Latin America. It will be a struggle, it will be hard. Nevertheless, Justice can be heard by those ignored by a society who wanted to forget their scars. 

This documentary is gripping and an invaluable historical document for our modern culture. It pictures a weak democracy with low levels of social and political accountability and where impunity is one of the norms. A group of people led by Paz y Paz decided to go against the tide. The sequences we watch are stunning: the camera lives both with this Human Rights militant in her intimacy and at work. It is rare to be such a privileged witness of transparency within an State department and see the issues that Paz y Paz had to face ( resistance from the establishment to Justice, the bureaucratic inefficiency, the threats to her life). This is an example of a woman who decided to open the doors of the Judiciary system to people: we, as viewers, are part of this new transition.

This is a hard struggle of a continent still asking for Justice. This is an essential film because it mirrors many Latin American countries: cases such as in Chile and Argentina have certain similarities with Guatemala. Besides the context in which we are inserted, this is the brave struggle of a woman (the first woman ever to take charge as a General Attorney) who despite her small and cute voice, is an example of toughness and courage. Red Curtain Cinema cannot but only applause with this documentary who reminds us that this world needs more people interested in Politics. Political apathy is a tool used by the most powerful. You just need to believe you can make a change and Claudia Paz y Paz was one of them. She did it.


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