Friday, April 22, 2016

Heirs to the Soil (orig. Los del Suelo) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (4+ Stars)

IMDb listing listing* listing*
TodasLasCrí listing radio interview w. Irmina Kleiner and Remo Vénica whose story was portrayed in the film* (R. Gallego) interview w. the director and Irmina Kleiner / Remo Vénica about the film* (M. Chiavarino) review* (D. Enz) review*
Clarí (H. Bilbao) review* (M. Pérez) review* (E. Basile) review*
Espectador Avenzado (H. Gallegos) review*
Leedor (A. Portela) review* (D. Ciccotta) review* (Pedro Squillaci) review* (J. Porta Fouz) review*

Heirs to the Soil (orig. Los del Suelo) [2015] [IMDb] [FAes]*[CN]* (directed and screenplay by Juan Baldana [IMDb] [FAes]*[CN]* based on the book Monte Madre [WCat] by Jorge Miceli [WCat] [IMDb] [CN] ) is a COMPELLING and to CATHOLICS HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT ARGENTINIAN (RECENT) HISTORICAL DRAMA that played recently at the 32nd (2016) Chicago Latino Film Festival.

The film tells story of Irmina Kleiner (played in the film by María Canale [IMDb] [FAes]*[CN]*) and Remo Vénica (played in the film by Lautaro Delgado [IMDb] [FAes]*[CN]*) TWO ACTUAL ARGENTINIAN CATHOLIC ACTIVISTS OF THE 1970s, members of the "Movimiento Rural de Acción Católica" who had to flee for their lives into the forest jungles of Northern Argentina (and STAYED THERE FOR YEARS) during the Argentinian 1970s Civil / Dirty War because the Civil / Minitary Dictatorship of the time simply took ALL Activists to be "Communists."

One COULD SAY that "The Authorities" didn't declare their "War" to be "Dirty" for nothing ... 'cept, of course, people like these two, then 20-something Activists, MOTIVATED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S PRONOUNCEMENTS OF THE TIME (Mendelin [wikip], [docs]*)  FOUND THEIR LIVES RADICALLY DISRUPTED and REPEATEDLY NEARLY CUT SHORT because of "The Authorities" _laziness_ in trying to make even the _most basic of distinctions_.

Basically, to be opposed to even the most obvious / grievous injustices at the time made one "a Communist," forget that the Catholic Church itself found itself in a bind:

The injustices / radical inequalities in Latin America were patently obvious and endemic.  TO SAY NOTHING would play EXACTLY into the hands of ACTUAL COMMUNISTS who were saying at the time 1960s-80s that the Church was an "Ossified, fundamentally Backward even Reactionary organization" that REALLY "DIDN'T CARE" ABOUT THE POOR and WAS "IN LEAGUE WITH THE RICH" of these Societies.

Yet, TO SAY ANYTHING AT ALL in opposition to said injustices / radical inequalities in Latin America made the Church "SOUND COMMUNIST" to the Rich / Powerful of these societies (as well as to the CIA / the United States, which were TERRIFIED that the whole of Latin America would just "up and go Communist.")

And so it was: In 1968 at Mendelin [wikip], [docs]*, CELAM, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Latin America _chose_ to speak-out against the social / economic injustices existing in Latin America, inspiring young educated Catholic activists like Irmina and Remo portrayed in the film to stand-up and help organize the poor out there "in the campos" of NW Argentina...

... and by 1977, during the height of the "Dirty War" in Argentina, the two had to flee for their lives and live _foraging in the jungle_ FOR FOUR YEARS for fear of The Authorities who were out to kill them.  In the film, we see Irmina giving birth TWICE, DURING THEIR TIME IN SAID JUNGLE (!).

Finally (after giving birth to the second child ... out there ... in the jungle) with help of an otherwise not particularly effectual and certainly thoroughly humiliated local Priest (because he could do so little for them, after having previously inspired them ...), Fr. Dougast (played by Pierre Marquille [IMDb]), they were at least able to get the (forged) documents together to flee across the border to neighboring Brazil.

We Servites know something if this kind of a story as well, as our own men and women knew Brazilian seringuero activist Chico Mendes personally (he was our parishioner out there in Acre, Brazil) and he was murdered in a political assassination at his modest seringuero's home in 1988

Thankfully, we in the Church _continue to inspire_ people to stand up for what is right.  The tragedy is that, often enough, it's these people who we inspire who come to suffer the consequences of our words.  But what then to do?  Do we then shut up for fear as well? 

Sigh ... an _excellent_ (!) and _very thought provoking_ film.

* Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser. 

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