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USA, 2012, 71 Minute Running Time
Program: DocumentaryLanguage: Spanish English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Mark Kendall
Producer: Mark Kendall, Rafael GonzálezEditor: Mark KendallCinematographer: Mark Kendall
Tracing the course of a ten-year-old school bus from its auction in Pennsylvania to its new life in Guatemala is a journey from the safety of the American suburbs to a precarious existence in which extortion often determines life expectancy. Filmmaker Mark Kendall tells the story of one such bus in a beautifully imagined documentary that explores the fragility of life where civil institutions and authorities are powerless to protect citizens from organized crime. La Camioneta contrasts the ordinariness of the bus’s mission in the U.S. with the vibrant but vulnerable existence it carves out in the hills and cities of Guatemala. In 2010 alone, 130 of that country’s bus drivers lost their lives to violence perpetrated by extortionist gangs who destroy buses unless they’re paid not to.
The central figure is a soft-spoken entrepreneur named Ermelindo, who buys the bus to try to ensure his family’s financial future. As if to emphasize that the life of the bus might be fleeting, it is refurbished and elaborately festooned with feathers and images. Yellow and black go away, and what emerges is a highly crafted makeover that brightens the landscape. But nothing can wipe away the danger. Ermelindo must pay “protection” so that no one will kill his drivers. He understands that it’s the cost of doing business, but that doesn’t make it any less frightening.
Kendall’s first film, the documentary short The Time Machine, was nominated for a Student Academy Award in 2011.
- VAL MOSES
In cooperation Promesa Mayan Health Project
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