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Medellin Notebooks
A Film by Catalina Villar
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Medellin, Colombia, the city made famous by the cocaine cartels. It is the home of chronic violence and misery, and is overpopulated by peasants fleeing the guerrillas. Young children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the street wars, and cling to anything remotely protective.

But at one high school a remarkable teacher is working on an innovative project. The teacher asks the students to commit to "a big experience - to write the most important book in the world, more important than 100 Years of Solitude! You are going to tell, the story of your life." While improving their language and writing skills, the teacher hopes the students will understand it is possible to overcome the greatest of obstacles.

Millerdad and Sandra, Maria Eugenia, Doralba and others recount the kindness of their mothers, the absence of their fathers, the fight to survive, and their will to go on. The film shows them discussing their writings in class, helping each other develop the all-important capacity, for listening.

"Highly Recommended... for High School, Undergraduate or Graduate students, especially those studying sociology, political science, or Latin American affairs or history. The picture and sound quality of this film are good. Amidst all [the] activity, excerpts from some of the students' diaries are heard in voiceover. They punctuate poignant scenes of both despair and love."—Educational Media Reviews Online

2001 Award of Merit in Film, Latin American Studies Association
Best Documentary & Audience Award, 1998 Nyon Film Festival (Switzerland)
Prix "Découvertes" 1998 SCAM (France)
Grand Prize, 1998 Festival Amas Cultura (Portugal)
Grand Prize, 1998 Festival Documentaire de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle (Spain)
Gold Conch, 1998 IFFI Festival (India)

55 minutes / color
Release: 2000
Copyright: 1998
Sale: $298

Subject areas:
Colombia, Education, Latin American Studies, Sociology, South America, Youth Issues

Related Titles:
Impunity: What is the cost of truth for families damaged by Colombia's violent past?

The Inheritors: At early age children begin to work in the Mexican countryside. This is a portrait of theirs lives and their daily struggle for survival.

Stolen Land: Illustrates the decades-long often violent resistance movement of the indigenous Nasa people of Colombia over rights to their native land.

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