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  Song Without a Name Bye Bye Baby
Year: 2019
Director: Melinda Leon
Stars: Pamela Mendoza, Tommy Parraga, Lucio Rojas, Ruth Armas, Maykol Hernandez
Genre: Drama, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Georgina (Pamela Mendoza) is one of the indigenous people of the Andes, a group who scrape a living selling in markets but are trapped on the lowest rung of society's ladder. But they still retain their own culture, and she has been enjoying a blessing ritual recently, for she is very pregnant and due to give birth any day now. However, it is 1988, and in Peru there are serious problems with the government which is a dictatorship, with all the heavy corruption that comes with that, as she is about to discover. When she is in the market selling potatoes, she hears an advertisement over a nearby radio that a clinic has opened a few blocks away that will cater for those who are too poor to afford proper healthcare - it's free, and she makes her way there optimistically.

Song Without a Name, or Cancion sin nombre as it was originally named, was made as the first feature by Melinda Leon (after various duties, including shorts, in the Peruvian film industry ensured her experience was solid). It sought to highlight one of the worst effects of gangsterism in South America that afflicted the indigenous, which was the widespread crime of baby kidnapping, something that had come to light actually in the early nineteen-eighties, but had continued until... well, it seems to still happen in the twenty-first century. The motive was to make money out of people trafficking, by stealing newborn infants from their parents and selling them to those who could afford them, often in Europe, who would raise the children as their own.

Quite why a well-off family would prefer to bring up a child that was not theirs was not really delved into here, this was more interested in the effect of the bereft mothers like Georgina, though once she has had her baby and not even been given a chance to feed it before it is whisked away, she is callously booted out into the street, wailing that she wants to see her offspring. She goes to fetch her husband, Leo (Lucio Rojas), but on returning the clinic has gone and the building is an empty one. It's the sort of nightmare that could have been the subject of a Hollywood movie concentrating on the horrors of South of the Border totalitarian regimes, probably featuring a white lawyer from the United States crusading for women like Georgina, but this had more in common with the rigorous examinations of the movies out of Chile or Argentina.

You know the ones, where their dictatorships were assessed and pored over with unyielding and unforgiving style, a lament for how bad things would have got in the twentieth century in the whole continent, though Leon's picture had a more feminine view of events in Peru, centred around the baby scandal. Certainly Georgina has to seek the help of a man, here journalist Pedro (Tommy Parraga) who has been treading carefully since he is a closeted by necessity gay citizen at a time when such sexualities could very well get you killed there, but his drive to bring the perpetrators to justice overrides his fear of self-preservation issues. Therefore he and Georgina make a team, performing their own investigation to reveal the corruption goes from the criminal gangs right the way to the top, or near enough: there was a chilling exchange late on where a politician tells Pedro he'll do his best to help, but frankly these children were going to far better lives than anything poor women like Georgina could provide. All of this was shot in black and white to make it look like newspaper photography of the era; uplifting it was not, indeed it was a grind, but valuable it was. Music by Pauchi Sasaki.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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