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Lucanamarca 2008

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Sandra Yépez, Elizabeth Lescano
Directed by Carlos Cárdenas, Héctor Gálvez
DVD, color, 69 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Political Science, South American Studies

Date Entered: 08/20/2009

Reviewed by Wendy Highby, University of Northern Colorado

Santiago de Lucanamarca is a village in the Huanca Sancos province in the Peruvian Andes. On April 3, 1983, sixty-nine Quechuan peasants were massacred in and around the village by members of the guerrilla group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). Almost twenty years later, the filmmakers document the long-delayed reconciliation process for the people of Lucanamarca. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission arrives in 2002 to begin exhuming bodies. The film touches upon the procedures of forensic anthropology. The reburial ceremony is documented. This is interspersed with interviews of survivors. Villagers recount the beginning of the guerilla movement, the mob violence against Olegario Curitomay (a local Shining Path commander), and the subsequent massacre. The film follows several villagers as they travel to Lima in April 2006 to formally testify in the trial of Shining Path leaders. It concludes with reactions to the November 2, 2006 sentencing of Abimael Guzmán, the founder of Shining Path.

This is a documentary of great emotional and moral complexity, and visual beauty. The fine cinematography captures the beauty of the landscape of Lucanamarca. What gives the film its depth is the inclusion of many interviews, including several with the brother of Curitomay. Also, the filmmakers document the reactions to the political outcomes. The villagers’ responses to the government’s distribution of reparations are mixed. The visit of President Toledo is filmed. He pledges justice and financial aid for the community, but subsequent attempts to penetrate the bureaucracy and contact him appear futile.

This rich and complex documentary by Cárdenas and Gálvez offers many possibilities for educators. Applications include support for curriculum in anthropology, area studies, sociology, social psychology, political science, ethics, and criminal justice. The film is an excellent complement to Pamela Yates’ State of Fear (New Day, 2005). While Yates film is broader in scope, this film’s distinction is its focus on one rural Peruvian community and the unique reaction to the truth and reconciliation process. Lucanamarca is a poignant and masterful study of the legacy of violence, community dynamics, and the search for justice.