“Scene 1, Take 20!” The guerrillas who swapped Kalashnikovs for cameras – Latin America Reports

“The tribunals are there to judge – this is to relate what was lived – real lives and real stories. It’s not trying to forgive or propagandize: it’s just art, storytelling, expression,” says Ricardo Coral, the Colombian movie director who coordinated the venture. 

The film is deeply intimate and palpably private to these concerned – much more transferring for its easy model and the realism of its dialogue. It was fully written, filmed, directed, and acted by former combatants.

There are many documentaries about Colombia’s lengthy and bloody civil conflict, however that is the primary of its type: autobiographical fiction – vignettes woven into an anthology, which depicts violent transformation and navy life, but in addition friendship, each day life within the guerilla, and love.

Even the sound engineering was executed by demobilized FARC troopers, a part of a venture to re-capacitate younger individuals who had been recruited at an early age, and who had missed out on schooling and work expertise. But it gave the staff rather more than expertise and technical data – it gave them catharsis, and illustration – a blow to what Coral calls the ‘permanent amnesia’ of Colombia in relation to its historical past.

“Cinema is memory,” he tells Latin America Reports, “but it’s also a tool of social transformation. The team were in a process of handing over their guns, which had been symbolic for them as a tool of justice, and a mark of belonging and identity in the FARC.” 

The staff are fast to inform me that it’s not a political train or an try to revendicate the picture of the FARC, however simply their tales – the fact of each day life within the jungles and mountains in Colombia amid a bitter civil battle.

“Nobody denies the crimes of the FARC, the horrors committed, but what’s in this film is also true – these memories are also part of the story,” says Coral.

The story has been, overwhelmingly, informed by and about males, Xiomy Martinez, a feminine combatant-turned-sound-technician-and-actress, tells me.

“My purpose is telling the other side – stories of women – our loves and our friendships and our bonds and camaraderie, as well as the reasons we joined in the first place – people with no food at home, people who just wanted a chance at education, and those who came for political reasons too, those had suffered state or paramilitary crimes, had their houses burnt or their crops destroyed.”

The teamwork on set echoed the closeness of communal residing in a FARC camp, Martinez says, with the identical early begins, out of doors initiatives, and communal meals they have been already used to.

“It was a great process – we became a familia,” Martinez tells me, “But we fought like a family too, you know? There’s always that one cousin doing things someone doesn’t like,” she laughs. “But that’s what helped us survive so much, including losing loved ones, that sense of humor, joking around, teasing one another.”

The filmmaking course of was simpler than Coral had imagined. The group picked up cinematography very quickly, being well-used to having to rapidly decide up new expertise and adapt to new conditions – switching from communications to nursing to logistics and fight. 

“Audiovisual production is like an army, there’s heads of team, a lower command, those who follow orders – soldiers are used to order and obey and collective work – that’s how they lived in the FARC – in collective effort, with aims and projects in common.”

Some of the staff even had expertise performing, having placed on theater reveals within the guerrilla camps for different troopers and typically for native communities too.

“We used to do theater in the FARC – I remember the last show I did was about aerial fumigation of coca crops,” Martinez tells me animatedly, “Some comrades even played animals or flowers, affected by the glyphosate chemicals they were spraying overhead.”

“I’d done some acting, but nothing like a film, but I’ve always been like that – ‘Let’s do it!’ – but sure, sometimes we had to do a lot of takes on things – ‘“Scene 1, Take 20!’” she remembers, laughing raucously.

But for Coral, that quick-to-learn capability and aptitude was bittersweet.,

“It revealed the injustice of the country. Seeing the obvious potential of rural youth without formal education, and thinking about the opportunities they just never get. These are resourceful, smart, hard-working guys – from the jungle to the film set.”

Coral met the staff within the earliest days of demobilization: the group have been residing in a half-built reintegration camp, fearing for his or her safety and unsure what was subsequent for them. 

“We were scared, disorientated, and demotivated, tired of the camp staff coming and going, leaving because of security risks, tired of the risk of being killed ourselves,” says Martinez.

For the staff, the movie was a lifeline, she explains – and earnings from downloads of the movie nonetheless is. The peace course of was a powerful 300-page doc which was trigger for enormous hope and celebration within the nation in 2016, however has lacked implementation underneath the present authorities.

Former-FARC combatants, regardless of collaborating within the peace deal, nonetheless face enormous limitations to reintegration into society in addition to ongoing safety dangers – practically 300 former-guerrillas have been assassinated for the reason that peace deal was signed. The movie collective is known as after one of many murdered combatants: David Marín, a good friend of the staff who was killed in 2018.

“We were never afraid of peace, we were afraid of being killed. We still are – it’s hard to go out knowing you might get killed, for being a former guerrilla, for being a rural farmer, for being a woman. It’s awful to continually read about the assassinations, it’s enough to drive you crazy – what are we supposed to do?” says Martinez.

The official narrative has been singular and repeated by the media, she saidtells me, and it has didn’t humanize actors on each side in a still-polarized Colombia, by which the left and proper nonetheless demonize each other, and the determine of the FARC stays controversial. It was solely a matter of months in the past that the United StatesUSA removed the FARC from their list of terrorist organisations – half a decade after the group laid down arms.  

Arms could have been laid down, Martinez says, however the nation continues to be in dire want of deep reform, and the wrestle for progress shouldn’t be over, although it’s now on the streets and in establishments.  

“So many people want change, I hope we keep fighting to change the system, not just the government – if the institutions stay in the hands of the same people, nothing changes. We must unite for the common good.”

And storytelling stays on the coronary heart of that, says Martinez, who has additionally testified on the Truth Commission about rapes and abuses by American troops in the course of the civil battle. 

“This country is weighed down with stories – so many sad stories, but also stories of struggle and bravery – and of everyday life – who tells those? Telling the story is so important – there are so many younger people who don’t know what’s going on.”

Xiomy Martínez on set

She hopes the collective will come collectively once more to make extra movies,

“Not just to humanize the war, but to humanize one another – my neighbor, your uncle. This is how we can learn, how we can get to know one another – let’s tell our stories, let’s make movies. This country has a lot of stories to tell before it can heal.”

You can now stream the film here – English subtitles obtainable

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