Out of the Shadows: ‘New’ Peruvian Cinema, National Identity and Political Violence

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This article focuses on two debut works of cinema that were released within a few months of each other shortly after the turn of the century and which offer quite different modes of representation of the 'dirty war' that devastated Peru for two decades before that: Paloma de Papel (Fabrizio Aguilar 2003) and Días de Santiago (Josué Méndez 2004). It sets out a critical analysis of the cinematic treatment of the violence of terror as imagined via their film-makers and reflects upon their critical and commercial reception in Peru and beyond. It seeks to refute the accusations of neglect on the part of film-makers from some journalists and politicians by highlighting the ongoing importance of the period, its events and consequences for cinema in and of Peru. Moreover it explores the extent to which individual films, and cinema as a collective practice, play a key role in harnessing the potential for testimony and triggering debate about cultural and historical heterogeneity. In the final analysis, I argue that fiction cinema continues to play an influential and controversial role in shaping a sense of collective identity in nations such as Peru that are in the process of 'crystallization' and that have suffered recent trauma. I contend that so-called 'national' films (those supported to a certain degree by the State) remain vital in their provision of diverse representations of landmark events of national concern that draw attention to the fractured and fragmented nature of such experiences, emphasising the persistence of division at every level.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalModern Languages Open
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Peru
  • Cinema
  • Violence
  • Shining Path

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