Gunpowder Heart Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

A remarkable film, made even more remarkable by the circumstances of its making. Writer and Director Camila Urrutia’s debut feature is a hard look at life for young women in Guatemala City.

Shot on the streets, and constantly on the move, Claudia (Andrea Henry) and Maria (Vanessa Hernandez) are lovers just trying to get by, and struggling to cope with their lives in run-down areas of the city that, to say the least, are unforgiving for young women, and even more so if they do not conform to the heterosexual “norm”.

One night out at a carnival ends in horror as the two girls are dragged into bushes and raped by three men. Attempts to report this to the police come to nothing – perhaps the most telling scene in the film is set in the police station, where an officer sits reading a newspaper while women waiting to be seen eventually give up and leave. When Claudia approaches him, she is told he cannot take her complaint as they have run out of paper and so have nothing to write it on.

Claudia tries to persuade Maria they should leave for America, but Maria is looking for revenge, and goes looking for their attackers with a gun. (Another pointed scene occurs when she wants to buy bullets and is asked if she has a permit. On saying no, it’s a present for her grandfather, the bullets are provided).

It is all too obvious that this is not going to end well, these girls are no vigilantes, and this is no soapy, love conquers all movie, but social realism that borders on the documentary.

Powerful, jagged and tender, this is a film that needs to be seen.

Jim Welsh

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