A new Colombian movie that is set to premiere on Friday examines the devastating reality of “false positives” from the perspective of two young lovers.
“Silencio en Paraiso” (Silence in Paradise) tells the fictional story of Ronald and Leidy, two young sweethearts from a poor neighborhood in Colombia’s capital Bogota whose burgeoning relationship is abruptly ended by the army.
Colombia Reports talked to director Francisco Bolivar and cameraman Jemay Alberto Cañon about the movie.
Was the movie a stroke of inspiration or something that has been developing for a long time?
Bolivar: The truth is I didn’t think about it very long. I wanted to create a story about love around a political event, a significant event that happened in our society. But I wanted to create a clean story, a extremely clean movie without shedding a single drop of blood. Rather, the depth and the drama lies in the characters.
Beneath the surface of the storytelling, what is the central message?
Cañon: I don’t think there’s a central message. It’s important in Colombia to have access to information through different types of media. To me, these types of media are ways to tell a story. I think that sadly in this country documentaries have a bad reputation and people think they’re boring. But like documentaries, art can also generate memories, and in this case through telling a melodramatic story. This movie is almost a kind of documentary, and mothers of the victims appear at the end to share their stories. This has a powerful impact on the audience.
Garcia: Everything is said in the movie, there’s no need to add or subtract anything. People will come and leave with their own interpretations. But nothing is covered up in the movie, everything is announced. And this is important because it’s our story, we have to tell it. These things cannot be concealed.
Bolivar: This movie isn’t meant to relate any kind of central message. It’s a movie that depicts a historical moment through telling a love story. The movie is a story about young love with a Colombian ending, because the fact is, this could only occur in Colombia. Love may end for many reasons, because of jealousy or infidelity, but this ending is uniquely Colombian.
Why choose to do a movie on “false positives” in Colombia, and why now?
Cañon: It’s the best moment to do this movie because in Colombia we have the problem of forgetting things quickly. If this movie didn’t come out now, then society will forget about these events. Colombians can forget simply because of a soccer game, or a festival.
Garcia: It’s important to realize that this is not a new event, it’s something that has a long history in our country. One weekly magazine came out with an article about how ‘false positives’ has been occurring for 25 years in Colombia, and also shared the personal stories of victims. I think social networks are allowing us to reveal all of these events and facts, not just about the false positives but also thousands of other facts.
Bolivar: I was interested in the subject because as a society we need to examine ourselves, and to not be ashamed to do so. But we have to take a look at ourselves fast, right now. If this movie was made 15 years down the line, it won’t have the same meaning or impact. We have to learn something from North Americans, they’re magicians. When a political event or military event occurs, they make a movie about it immediately. For Colombians, it scares us to look ourselves in the eye. Well then, we have to. We have to take a look into our own eyes.
How do you feel about the reception and what kind of impact do you want it to have?
Bolivar: I would like everyone to come see the movie. That the movie changes people, makes people suffer, and moves people. What one tries to do with a work of art is to evoke emotions. If that occurs, then I’m satisfied. And, I believe that this event should not happen in Colombia again.
The movie is set in Ciudad Bolivar and depicted many scenes of the poverty and inequality that exists, do you think this is a key theme in the movie?
Bolivar: I think this is a very important point. This movie is based on the lack of opportunities for young people. Because if these young men had had other opportunities, then even if someone came to offer them work, they wouldn’t have gone. Because they would have already had jobs. One of the underlying themes is the problem of lack of opportunities and these opportunities are what young people need to reach their dreams. And this is why the explanation of the movie is, “To kill a dream, all that’s needed is a lie.”
It’s necessary that we progress as a country. Colombia is a terribly unequal country. If we don’t look at these problems and make great changes, then these events that affect us as a society will keep occurring. The root of many of our society’s problems is inequality and poverty. And you can see this theme in the movie. In the images, in the character’s behaviors, in the repeated searches. In all of the searches in the movie, what’s unspoken but clear is a profound inequality and the search for opportunities.