I just saw this film at the Seattle International Film Festival premiere and I enjoyed it immensely. I was a little apprehensious as I am a big fan of Oliver Stone's Salvador and I didn't think there was much more to say on the topic. But I must say that Voces Innocentes managed to bring something new to the table thru the innovative idea of telling the story thru the eyes of children. Adding to its poignancy is the fact that it's all based on the true life story of Oscar Orlando Torres, called by his nickname Chava in the film.
Torres was present at the screening tonight and few who stayed to listen to him were not moved by his words and life experience. First time actor Carlos Padilla portrays Chava in the film, and his outstanding performance is a credit as much to director Luis Mandoki as it is to himself. The gorgeous Leonor "Cleopatra" Varela also shows she is much more than a pretty face, putting in a very moving performance as Chava's mother. The rest of the cast is also routinely superb, including Spaniard Daniel Giménez Cacho as the priest and Jesus Ochoa (uncredited on IMDb) as the bus driver.
Voces Inocentes was filmed in Jalapa, Mexico and produced by the Mexican company Altavista Films (Amorres Perros, Todo el Poder, Nicotina). The cinematography and editing are world class, and the magnificent score really puts the film over the top. Torres told us that the main theme (played on the guitar by his uncle and in the closing credits) was his inspiration for writing the screenplay and it's not hard to see how he was moved by it.
According to Torres, the film will receive a wider US release in September '05 and the DVD release will follow sometime after that.
A final note: despite complaints to the contrary I don't think that the film necessarily took a strong side in the conflict. The government troops definitely weren't portrayed well but the acts of the rebels were neither so glorious. As Torres told us, this film wasn't so much a political statement as "the real life memories of a child". Highly recommended.
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