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19-08-11 REVIEW--'the Tiniest Place' Brilliantly Transports Past Salvadoran Tragedies Into the Present

19-08-11 REVIEW--'the Tiniest Place' Brilliantly Transports Past Salvadoran Tragedies Into the Present

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Published by William J Greenberg
“Someone wanted us to vanish,” says one of the several survivors in “The Tiniest Place,” a chilling look at the trauma of past oppression haunting its victims in the present. Director Tatiana Huezo, making her feature-length debut, interviews the residents of a small village called Cinquera buried in the Salvadoran jungle and still coping with the memories of the civil war that afflicted El Savador between 1980 and 1992.
“Someone wanted us to vanish,” says one of the several survivors in “The Tiniest Place,” a chilling look at the trauma of past oppression haunting its victims in the present. Director Tatiana Huezo, making her feature-length debut, interviews the residents of a small village called Cinquera buried in the Salvadoran jungle and still coping with the memories of the civil war that afflicted El Savador between 1980 and 1992.

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Categories:Types, Reviews, Film
Published by: William J Greenberg on Sep 08, 2011
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REVIEW | “The Tiniest Place” Brilliantly Transports PastSalvadoran Tragedies Into the Present
 by Eric Kohn (August 19, 2011)"The Tiniest Place." Cinema Tropical.“Someone wanted us to vanish,” says one of the several survivors in“The Tiniest Place,” a chilling look at the trauma of past oppressionhaunting its victims in the present. Director Tatiana Huezo, making her feature-length debut, interviews the residents of a small village calledCinquera buried in the Salvadoran jungle and still coping with thememories of the civil war that afflicted El Savador between 1980 and1992. Having lost members of their family to a government aiming tosilence civilian dissent, they took their opponent’s desire literally andvanished on their own—by heading to the hills, where Huezo findsthem.Eschewing archival footage for a more pensive approach, the filmmaker watches her subjects go about their lives in the wilderness, pitting anotherworldly beauty at odds with the grief they recount. The residents of 
 
Cinquera rarely speak on camera. Instead, Huezo focuses on their facesand the minutiae of their provincial lives to provide a sharp contrast withthe encroaching dread generated by their testimonies in constantvoiceovers. With no fancy tricks and only the occasional musical cue,Huezo effectively gets inside their heads.The anecdotes slowly grow darker and increasingly ominous, eventually becoming dominated by the villagers’ grim recollections of death.Huerzo skillfully handles two layers of narrative: the contemporaryfootage and voiceovers that deepen its implications. A man recalls themurder of his father driving his battle to survive, and an elderly residentvividly constructs the grisly image of her daughter’s mutilated corpse. Ineach case, their faces expand on the emotional implications of their stories. Using similar finesse, Huerzo matches the tale of bombs wipingaway the town with the image of a cloud drifting through the forestlandscape, at first an innocuous image that gradually takes on afrightening illustrative dimension.Like the construction of the movie, the forest appears relatively simple but actually holds a dark secret, littered with undiscovered corpses andother wartime detritus. In this regard, “The Tiniest Place” calls to mindPatricio Guzmán’s brilliant “Nostalgia for the Light,” which focuses onthe remnants of Chilean atrocities strewn about the Atacama Desert.Huezo, however, relies more on irony, juxtaposing the wartime settingwith storybook images, acknowledging her distance from the events inquestion.The filmmaker is too young to remember the war herself, but has crafteda movie that ably grapples with the past through its reverberations in the present. When one survivor recalls the years he spent hiding from the National Guard in a dark, claustrophobic gave, Huezo’s camera follows

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