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UK, 1989 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Peter Chappell

The horror of El Salvador is often expressed in numbers of dead, tortured or disappeared which cannot easily be translated into the fates of individuals. Stories From Cuscatlan gives us a glimpse of what life is like for a group of three humble families from different backgrounds living in El Salvador.

Much of the commentary comes from the people themselves as they go about their daily tasks. All are desperately poor and have lost families or homes in the violence of a seemingly endless war. The context is provided by Manlio Argueto, one of El Salvador's leading poets and novelists who now lives in exile in Costa Rica, and who wrote the script. 'What we have tried to show' says Argueta, 'is the strength of these ordinary people and how they continue their way of life and their beliefs in spite of all the violence'.

Many other documentaries about Central America have managed to convey only hopeless horror, or the determination of those pledged to end it. This film somehow manages to convey a ray of hope by showing human dignity and spirit in the face of seemingly impossible odds. - (GH)

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