Peruvian Society According to the Average People By Kay Hoffmann

in 51st Leipzig International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film

by Kay Hoffmann

With dramaturgic mastery in Oblivion (El Olvido) Heddy Honigmann tells the story of the society in the Peruvian capital Lima, where she was born, as reflected in the life of the ‘average people’. They work in cafes, bars, shops, or in the streets, offering their services to make a living. Politics should serve society as well, but corruption prevents the fulfilment of those promises politicians made before their election. Single episodes are combined artistically and show the daily struggle for existence in this society. Lima is nearly forgotten in the news of the world and the film tries to work against this.

The entire structure of this multi-layered film is poetic, with ironic elements as well as a sense of humour for the protagonists. Their stories are told through strong images and in a very cinematographic way (DoP Adri Schover). Honigmann confesses that this was probably her most complicated film, bringing together all the pieces of the mosaic. But she and her editors Danniel Danniel and Jesica de Koning managed to condense the situation in Lima in a magical way, giving people a voice that could be heard. And they have many stories to tell. Honigmann’s protagonists have strong personalities that enable them to remain decent in their daily struggle for survival. When a 14-year-old youngster, who earns his money as a shoeshine boy on the streets of Lima, answers her that he has neither good nor bad memories and has no dreams at all, his disillusionment with life becomes obvious. The scar on his nose reveals that he has certainly had some fights. A group of young kids, who try to get some cash by cleaning the windscreens of cars waiting at the traffic lights or by showing some tricks, is shown without any false sentimentality. One young man of this group, who specializes in juggling, attends a training course for waiters, where he meets an experienced bartender, who plays an important role for the structure of the film. That leaves us with the hope that perhaps something will change for the young man. Presidents will come and go, but the barkeeper stays, as the International Jury put it in their commentary for the award of the Silver Dove for that film. Besides the FIPRESCI-Prize, Oblivion also won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury in Leipzig.

Heddy Honigmann has already won numerous awards, including a Golden Dove in Leipzig for Metal and Melancholy in 1992; she has been honoured with great retrospectives of her work, and stated that her new film is for her the most important one and also the best. Therefore she was very happy to receive so much recognition for Oblivion in Leipzig and did a perfect job commenting on the three prizes she got.