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THE SILENCE OF NETO

USA / Guatemala, 1994 (MIFF 1995)

Director: Luis Argueta

Powerful and promising this first feature film from Guatemala's fledgling film industry is also Luis Argueta's directorial debut.

It's J954, young Neto is on the verge of adult­hood as his country is on the verge of chaos-the distant rumble of the CIA-backed coup against the democratically elected government of president Jacobo Arbenz is about to become a furious roar.

The encroaching war zone extends to Neto's family and everyday life. His father is intent on instilling a sense of homeland in the boy whilst Uncle Ernesto encourages his questioning free-spirit, and overnight his classmate sweetheart and her family disappear. But wrapped in this world gone mad are Argueta's tender observa­tions of the innocent pursuits of adolescence irrepressible in the face of upheaval the chubby Neto's half -hearted attempts at bodybuilding his spying on the passionate clinches between the Indian maid and her revolutionary lover, the trips with chums to ineffectively ogle a girl's bal­let class, and his long cherished dream of flying a hot-air balloon without his father's help.

With a tender and breezy charm that belies it fiercely humanist heart, The Silence of Neto cap­tures the resilient spirit of youth coming-of-age in an age torn by nightmarish terrors.

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