El olvido


El Olvido
Heddy Honigmann
2008, HomeScreen
90 minutes (Spanish with English subtitles)

LATAMROB rating: ***

PERU is one of the better places to go for an exploration of the troubled governance and social contrast that distinguishes Latin America, and Heddy Honigmann’s admirable film attempts to do so by celebrating the lives of ordinary people in her native Lima. El olvido (Oblivion) tells about changes in the country’s turbulent politics from the perspective of ordinary people such as its bar tenders and street entertainers. It reveals how, in so many ways, the backdrop to bad governance is a daily struggle for survival. Honigmann is a skilful fly on the wall in this documentary, picking just the right people and situations to reveal the constrained aspirations of Limeños. Three little girls perform acrobatics for drivers at a crossroads, almost oblivious to the death of a fourth sister under the wheels of a car just months before. A single mother moves in with her mother after losing her restaurant job – and her husband as a result. A bartender serves cocktails in an establishment so posh that it has an aquarium with dolphins staring out at the well-heeled clientele. Henry the shoeshine boy has no dreams, anger or, tragically, bitterness. Honigmann proves that actions can speak louder than words when we try to empathise with ordinary people. She keeps her eye on the subjects and achieves a rare invisibility that makes this film an authentic snapshot of a troubled society. As the director, who is based in The Netherlands, points out, this could be any other Latin American city, where terrible things hide under the soil or in streets full of carbon monoxide and their bars, schools, hospitals and neighbourhoods. – EC

Bookmark and Share