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La Sierra
La Sierra
Actors: Edison Flores, Cielo Muñoz, Jesús Martínez (III)
Director: Margarita Martinez;Scott Dalton (II)
Genres: Indie & Art House
UR     2007     1hr 24min

{Award of Excellence -- Society for Visual Anthropology 2006 } — {Grand Jury Award, Best Documentary -- Miami Film Festival 2005} — {Special Mention, Best Documentary -- Slamdance Film Festival 2005 } — {Best Documentary-- IF...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Edison Flores, Cielo Muñoz, Jesús Martínez (III)
Director: Margarita Martinez;Scott Dalton (II)
Genres: Indie & Art House
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/20/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2004
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 24min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

The Expendables
Sally | Montana | 07/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Unlike many documentaries, La Sierra moves. Full of action and intensity.

As I edit my first documentary, I decided to view a wide range of documentaries to see what makes them entertaining as well as informative. So far, La Sierra ranks high for being both.

It opens with the wails of young woman, barely a woman, as she discovers her young husband lying in the grass, shot dead. Her friends drag her away, anguished, weeping, calling out to him, "mi amor."

La Sierra takes place in Medellin, Columbia, in what we are told is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of the city. To make this documentary, the filmmakers, journalists Scott Dalton and Margarita Martinez, negotiated with a feared gang for permission to film them. The documentary follows the gang through their world of drugs, turf wars and private, even tender, moments.

Edison, the gang leader, is the old man at 22. He, his gang members and their girls live to the hilt, enjoying the danger and drugs, laughing, loving, and making babies.

When the documentary begins, they are serving as informal paramilitary for the Colombian government during attacks on Medellin by the ELN, one of Colombia's two long standing revolutionary forces.

These gang warriors are so very young, so very poor, with no future, and little reason to think much about the consequences of their actions. And yet, individually, they each express a premature angst. A philosophical acceptance of their fate - that their lives will be short, and their dreams unfulfilled. All they have is Now, their friends, and their poignant desire that the lives of the babies they leave behind will be better.

The makers of La Sierra immersed themselves in this world to capture the drama and pathos, even participating in dangerous situations. One night, during a spontaneous gun fight, Edison shouts to the film maker, "Get down gringo. You'll get shot", but the camera races on.

I looked for little ways in which this documentary might be improved, but I'd have to watch it again to find much that distracts from the overall impact. The editing is a little rough. And the rhythm of the whole piece is off somewhat. But the solos - the interviews - are strong and moving.

My main criticism is that viewers not familiar with the political situation in Colombia at that time won't understand how the Colombian government used these impoverished young as expendables - enlisting them to serve against a real army that had been fighting the Colombian government for decades. Then, once a truce with the ELN was reached, their service meant nothing. Their government hunted them down as mere criminals.

Without understanding this in context, the full tragedy of their lives is missed.

Great, authentic experience
Mikeltxu | Spain | 07/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This great and atmospheric work shows real life issues (war, drugs, family, "no future") in the mountains around Medellin."