If the city of Lima was covered in dust, nobody would see it.
It is not, really, but all the same hardly anybody sees it or thinks about it, about its people cheated century after century and neglected by its rulers.
In order to come out of oblivion, there needs to be an earthquake grade 8 on the Richter scale or – as it has just happened – a discovery, in the most desolate mountains in Peru, of one of the largest mass graves in the history of the dirty war between the Peruvian army and the guerrilla movement Shining Path.
In ‘Oblivion’ (El Olvido) Lima could be any other Latin American city. Terrible things hide under its soil or in its streets full of carbon monoxide, in its bars, schools, hospitals and neighbourhoods; but the country is not a hot item.
About the Director
Heddy Honigmann is considered one of world’s best documentary filmmakers. Her films (short & long fiction, short & long documentaries) have travelled all around the world receiving major awards and important retrospectives as in Toronto, the Museum of Modern Art in NY, Paris, Berlin, Minneapolis, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Ontario, Utrecht, Grasz, Chicago and Berkeley among others.
She has also received many important awards for her entire work, as the Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award (2007), the San Francisco Films Society’s Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award (2007), the J. Van Praag Award from the Humanist Association (2005) Netherlands, the Jan Cassies award for her whole oeuvre from the Dutch National Fund for Cultural Films for Television (2003) Netherlands.
As the memory of the past is one of the topics which runs through most of my films, I intended, with ‘Oblivion’, to celebrate, in a poetic manner, this forgotten city and its people.
A few years ago, a young man who worked as a waiter in an elegant restaurant gave me the inspiration to attempt to discover my city. This young man, who I recognised after so many years away from Peru, told me how he managed to overcome with a smile the contempt he was exposed to at work. Others do it by making fun, quietly, of the class which oppresses them, remembering with pride that they have survived both economical crisis and terror organised by right and left (others entertain car drivers with pirouettes while they wait for a few coins).
‘Oblivion’ doesn’t scream, it whispers. ‘Oblivion’ doesn’t sob; it just cries. In El Olvido a bird flies over this forgotten city and stops here and there; it flies again and finally becomes a crystal ball that a young man keeps in perfect balance, challenging anonymity.