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State of Fear (Unrated)






Release Date: January 11th, 2006 (NYC-Film Forum) by Skylight Pictures.
Directed by Pamela Yates.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the twenty years of terrorism, political corruption, and fear in Peru since the Shining Path spread violence in 1980.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: State of Fear chronologically follows the last twenty years of Peruvian history. Writer/director Pamela Yates begins by explaining the social conditions in Peru before the Shining Path started slaughtering thousands of people. There was large gap between the poor and rich class helped to fuel the Shining Pathís anger. The Shining Path is in many ways like the KKKóan extremist group that uses violence as a means to solve all its problems. It even killed poor people who disagreed with it. Abimael GuzmŠn, its leader, never actually fought but instead served as the brain while those enlisted were the body. In a riveting interview with an ex-Shining Path member, the member recalls that at the age of eight, he was simple given two options: be killed or join the Shining Path. Yates makes it clear that those in the city of Lima knew very little about the violence going on because they were simply uninformed. She shows a few grisly but necessary images of innocent people killed by the Shining Path. Itís really interesting when the President Alberto Fujimori wins the elections and promises to defeat this terrorist group. His teams search for terrorism everywhere throughout the country and end up killing innocent people while making it seem just. He unrightfully takes full claim for the capture of Abimael GuzmŠn. Not surprisingly, after plenty of protests against violence, Peruvians force Fujimori out of office. Shot in crisp-looking digital video, State of Fear shows some breathtaking shots of the Peruvian landscape despite all of the ongoing bloodshed. By watching interviews with witnesses and victims who recall their experiences with detail and clarity, itís easy to be fully absorbed by this riveting documentary.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The Peruvian Truth Commission, which includes human rights activists, sheds light the heartbreaking testimonials of victims who were brutalized by the violence in Peruís past. Even those who werenít abused during Fujimoriís power still suffered from fear of terrorism every single day. Nobody deserves to go through what those Peruvians experienced. At the same time, itís cathartic for them to express their grief and anger to a group of people who are there to listen and uncover the harsh realities. State of Fear has a few moments of profound insight, such as that we all have two different sides: a human, rational part versus the animal-like, irrational part. Finding a way control the animal-like side is a very important part of being a just human being. However, itís not always easy to control itójust turn on the news and youíll see somebody who lets their animal behavior loose through violence. Fortunately, thanks to the Peruvian Truth Commissionís findings, the history books have been changed and everyone will hopefully be able to learn from the mistakes in the past to better their future.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0

IN A NUTSHELL: Insightful, riveting, and fascinating!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)


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