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Review: ‘Chocó’ at the iViva Film Festival 2013

Leo Mates reviews this Columbian addition to the iViva! line up

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Chocó is a Columbian film, which follows several days in the life of Chocólatico (Karent Hinestroza) a mother who lives with her abusive husband Everlides (Esteban Copete), a ‘musician’ who spends the majority of his time gambling with his friends (in some of the most heated domino-based scenes I’ve ever seen), before coming home drunk and forcing himself upon Chocó whilst their children sleep in the next bed.

Overall, the film is very slow moving, though this is in no way a bad thing. Slow, sweeping shots of Chocó walking her children to school provide a nice scenic relief from the brutal and harrowing rape scenes which occur at the beginning and end of the film. What makes Chocó interesting though, is the way in which it deals with its primary subject matter, that of gender, and to a lesser extent, race politics. The film shows us the difficulties of being a black woman in this male-dominated society, but rather than explore these problems, they are simply set out before us. The film doesn’t do much to actively sway us onto Chocó’s side, because it knows it doesn’t have to. This can be noted in a scene in which Chocó is beaten by her husband in front of a crowd of disinterested onlookers. Instead of dwelling on this point, the film continues, almost as if nothing had happened, no attempt to put any kind of cultural filter on what has occurred is made, and consequently the audience is drawn further into the harsh reality of Chocó’s world.

That said, Chocó is by no means perfect. There are a few moments when the film cuts back and forth in its narrative without giving any indication that it is doing so, which can be very confusing. On more than one occasion, I found myself unsure as to whether we had witnessed a dream sequence, a flash back or neither, which would be fine if the film explained it at any point, but unfortunately it doesn’t. However, these are simply hallmarks of an independent, low-budget film, that could probably have done with a little more editing, and barely detracts from the overall impact. Definitely worth a watch.