Storm In The Andes


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Storm In The Andes
"A intensely personal film."

Living with the legacy or Peru's brutal civil war is still agonising for those who were injured, went through torture or lost family members. It's differently troubling for the families of those responsible for the brutality. Josefin is the niece of Augusta la Torre Carrasco, the woman who, together with her husband Abimael Guzmán, founded the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrilla movement. Having grown up in Sweden, she is now travelling to Peru to meet a bereaved family and try to understand her aunt's choices.

Storm In The Andes is an intensely personal film, tightly focused on Josefin's journey and, as such, quite different from previous works on the subject like Felipe Degregori's Chungui Horror Sin Lágrimas. Director Mikael Wiström doesn't look far beyond the immediate story so there are major omissions in terms of political context, but for those familiar with the subject, the film provides an important human angle. The film also has plenty to offer to the uninitiated, as long as they don't assume they're getting the whole picture.

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The presence of Josefin, as an educated Westerner, potentially makes the film more accessible for audiences outside South America, but it does so largely by highlighting all the things that are difficult to grasp at a distance. Initially the young woman fails to connect with her surroundings; the more she manages to do so, the more she becomes aware of just how big a gulf there is between her and the impoverished Andean villagers who suffered most severely in the war, targeted by both sides. They are initially hostile because of her family background. They don't want to have to relive painful memories in order to help a relative of Augusta's find peace of mind. But Josefin has an openness and a vulnerability about her that gradually wins them over. Flor, who lost her brother in the conflict, wants to use the film to help clear his name, demonstrating that he was a victim and not a terrorist. The relationship between the two represents a belated opportunity for deeper conflicts to be resolved.

A guardedly optimistic story about reconciliation and the needs of survivors, this isn't always successful but has some intensely powerful moments. It's also beautifully shot, conveying the impact of Peru's stunning natural landscapes on the national psyche. Though there is only a brief diversion into history, the presence of old Inca roads winding between the mountain villages is a reminder of the journey the country has taken and of how little, in some cases, has changed; but 40 years after Augusta's attempted revolution, there is, at least, a sense of unity in grief.

Reviewed on: 07 Mar 2015
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A young woman travels to Peru in the hope of better understanding a troubling family legacy.

Director: Mikael Wiström

Writer: Mikael Wiström

Year: 2015

Runtime: 101 minutes

Country: Sweden


Human Rights 2015

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