Directed by Heddy Honigmann

93 minutes / Color
Spanish / English subtitles
Release: 2009
Copyright: 2008

The latest documentary from Heddy Honigmann (Forever, Metal and Melancholy, O Amor Natural) focuses on Peru's capital city of Lima, revealing its startling contrasts of wealth and poverty, and how many of its poorest citizens have survived decades of economic crisis, terrorism and government violence, denial of workers' rights, and political corruption.

Demonstrating anew Honigmann's extraordinary talent as one of the most empathetic documentary filmmakers at work today, OBLIVION provides intimate and moving portraits of street musicians, singers, vendors, shoeshine boys, and the gymnasts (some mere children) and jugglers who perform at traffic stops. The film also visits with small business owners, from a leather-goods repairman and a presidential sash manufacturer to a frog-juice vendor, and contrasts the work and home environments of bartenders, waiters and waitresses employed at Lima's finest restaurants and hotels but who live in slums in the city's surrounding hillsides.

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The moving interviews and reminiscences of these resilient and resourceful Peruvians are interwoven with scenes of contemporary political protests and archival footage of the rogues' gallery of the nation's presidents-Fernando Belaunde (1980-1985), Alan Garcia (1985-1990), Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000)-whose mismanaged or corrupt regimes have turned the majority of Peru's citizens into perennial victims of economic impoverishment and political abuse.

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For most viewers, who are reminded of Peru only by news reports of a major earthquake, a presidential election or the discovery of a decades-old mass grave of army massacre victims, OBLIVION introduces us to the everyday reality of Lima, celebrating a people who, albeit politically powerless, have resisted being consigned to oblivion.

"In a deceptively relaxed way she integrates intimate portraits into a telling picture about the hardship of life under a succession of corrupt governments." —International Film Guide

"A masterpiece… you feel a direct, easygoing and warm approach from the director to her characters." —Dox Magazine

"A multilayered cinematic cocktail which reveals a poetical and Chaplinesque vision of the resilience of humanity." —International Film Critics Federation

"Honigmann's film shows us that for those left behind in the wake of neoliberal economic policies, the terror of trying to survive plays out in long, slow periods of waiting for life to get better." —Latin American Perspectives

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A Film by Heddy Honigmann

Select Accolades

  • Mayor's Prize, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2009
  • International Film Critics FIPRESCI Prize, Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Films 2008
  • Silver Dove, Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Films 2008
  • Jury Prize, Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Films 2008
  • RIDM Documentary Festival in Montreal 2009


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