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Film Of The Week A heartbreaking story of ingrained racism

MARIA DUARTE recommends a film that encapsulates the hatred suffered by the indigenous people of Latin America

Song Without A Name
Directed by Melina Leon

Set in 1988 Peru at the height of the country's political crisis, this hauntingly sad drama explores the racism, stark inequality, injustice and dysfunctional authorities at that time through the eyes of an indigenous young mother-to-be who suffers the most unthinkable of traumas.

Inspired by a true story, writer-director Melina Leon's impressive and visually striking debut feature follows 20-year-old Georgina (a remarkable Pamela Mendoza) whose newborn daughter is stolen at a fake health clinic which disappears without a trace. Getting no joy from the police she ends up teaming up with investigative reporter Pedro Campos (Tommy Parraga).

Shot in black and white and in a 4:3 frame it conveys the feeling of entrapment as experienced by the characters who are confined in this austere world which sees everything in black and white and which treats them as second-class citizens.

Georgina and her husband Leo (Lucio Rojas), who have moved from the Andes to the outskirts of Lima, live in a shack without the basic necessities. They struggle to make a living and have no identity cards and so are treated dismissively by the police. They are sent from pillar to post at the Palace of Justice where they are forced to walk the Kafkaesque steps and corridors to obtain help in their search for their baby daughter.

In contrast Campos appears middle-class and well off but he too is poor and is forced to hide his homosexuality in order to survive in a macho society.

As Georgina battles to track down her missing baby and the perpetrators her husband joins the guerilla group Shining Path, although it is never mentioned by name, adding another social and political dimension to this heartbreaking story.

Driven by arresting visuals and a breathtaking performance by Mendoza the film ends on a close up of her face which has all the agony, despair and heartache of a mother, her people and nation etched on it.

In cinemas 30 October

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