Netherlands, 2008, 93 minutes
Sat, Apr 25 / 4:15 / PFA / OBLI25P
Sun, Apr 26 / 6:30 / Kabuki / OBLI26K
Tue, Apr 28 / 3:15 / Kabuki / OBLI28K
Veteran documentarian Heddy Honigmann, a citizen of the Netherlands, was born in Peru, and there she returns for this typically quirky, deeply humanist exploration of everyday resilience and resignation. For Honigmann, Lima is “the forgotten city,” though its citizens live in the shadow of the presidential palace. If presidents and dictators in endless parade have forgotten about the citizens of Lima, the citizens have not forgotten about them. In fact, if you want a concise history of the “scandals, dirty wars and towering inflation” of the last few decades, just ask a bartender, a waiter, a leather craftsman. All recall to the ever-approachable Honigmann how they have created their own reality to survive an economy in ruins. What is revealed in their faces and their wisdom is, in the words of a poet, “a deep, unexpected tenderness: the paradox of the beast.” Take note, ye newly depressed Americans, this is something as serviceable as the social contract. From the youngsters doing backflips in the street for coins to the waiter who sagely admits, “I’m a clown,” survival is a performance. For all the good it does these average Peruvians, having their eyes wide open is a point of pride. But if realism is good, magical realism is better—the sort that allows you to juggle glass balls in the air in the middle of a crowded intersection and call it progress.
West Coast Premiere. Photograph courtesy of Icarus Films.