Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Title: Madeinusa
Cast: Magaly Solier, Carlos de la Torre, Yiliana Chong, Ubaldo Huamán, Melvin Quijada
Director:Claudia Llosa

Madeinusa is a young Peruvian girl living in a remote village, who dreams of following her mother to the capital city Lima. Coming up for Holy Time, Made is selected as the prettiest girl in the village, and thereby this year’s Little Virgin. Of course being the mayor’s daughter may also have influenced that selection. As the Little Virgin Made is key to the upcoming festivities – she will lower Christ from his cross, wipe away the blood and then blindfold him. God is dead, and during this time he will see no sin. On Sunday coming though he will be reborn, so in the meantime the villagers celebrate by sinning. A series of parties, parades, and the mayor sleeping with the Little Virgin, his daughter.

Into this a young mining engineer from Lima arrives. Abandoned in the village when the road onward is cut off by flooding. His arrival makes the villagers uneasy. Holy Time is not a good time to have strangers around. One of his first encounters on arriving in the village is with the Virgin to be in full get up. Quickly he decides that this is a strange town, especially when they lock him up initially – for his own good, apparently. But things get chaotic with the enthusiastic partying and he is left to his own devices, wandering the periphery of events.

Abandoned by her mother, abused by her father, tormented by her sister, Made wants out. This man from Lima could be her escape route, she hopes. Made is a dreamer, dreams of escape, of shiny things, of a better life. Her sister is different, she has had her hopes dashed and realises that wishing for anything is a waste of time, you won’t get it, and you’d better just get on with life anyway. Though of course with Made getting attention from the father and the stranger tensions increase.

Madeinusa showed in Edinburgh as part of the 60th Edinburgh International Film Festival. A curious Peruvian/Spanish production, that didn’t quite live up to a description that suggested that the story of the Virgin and the Miner, would have elements of magic realism. The potential is certainly there – that first meeting, Made running around in her Virgin outfits presents a striking figure, one whom you could readily believe capable of leaving little miracles in her wake. Certainly, as the miner observes, this is a strange town, where every year instead of mourning god’s death they celebrate it – though I guess he died for their sins, so they had better get on with committing some. Fireworks, animal masks, ceremony and raucous partying – all combine in a heady mix, so that the film is charged and there is a real sense that anything could happen.

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