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Category: Edition 2005


It is the 1980s and a civil war is raging in El Salvador. The government troops and guerrilla units stand in irreconcilable opposition. Weakened by two years of fighting, the army has been forced to replenish its ranks with the nation’s young sons, most of whom are kidnapped in village raids. Chava, an 11 year-old boy, suddenly becomes the “man of the house”, after his father abandons the family and his uncle joins the guerrillas. With one year left before the government’s armed forces will recruit him, Chava’s life becomes a game of survival. While he falls in love with his classmate Cristina Maria, the war moves ever nearer. Armed only with his mother’s love and his small radio that sings of love and peace, Chava finds the courage to keep his spirit open and alive in his race against time.

Category Official Competition
Section Free to Fly
Tipology Feature Film
Duration 110'
Production Year 2004
Nationality Mexico
Directed by Luis Mandoki
Screenplay Luis Mandoki, Oscar Torres
Script Oscar Torres
Director of photography Juan Ruiz Anchia
Editor Aleshka Ferrero
Production Design Antonio Muño-Hierro
Costume Design Gilda Navarro
Sound Martín Hernández, Roland N. Thai
Music André Abujamra
Main cast Carlos Padilla (Chava)
Leonor Varela (Kella)
Xuna Primus (Cristina Maria)
Gustavo Muñoz (Ancha)
José María Yazpik (Beto)
Ofelia Medina (Toya)
Produced by Luis Mandoki, Lawrence Bender, Alejandro Soberón Kuri

innocent voices regLuis Mandoki

Born in 1954 in Mexico City. He studied filmmaking at San Francisco Art Institute and the National Film School in London. In 1976, his short film SILENT MUSIC won an award in Cannes. In 1984, he directed his first feature, MOTEL. After making his last film in Mexico in 1987, he went to the States in the 1990s and succeeded in directing high-quality popular films for different Hollywood studios, including GABY – A TRUE STORY (1987), BORN YESTERDAY (1993), WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN (1994), MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (1999), ANGEL EYES (2001), TRAPPED (2002).


Director’s statement

“I loved the fact that it was a true story, told from the point of view of a child, and with great honesty. So often these images of war are shown to us from the outside, by CNN. We never get to see what it is like inside those houses. To me, universal stories happen in a specific time and place. This story occurs in El Salvador in the 1980s, but it is also happening right now in Liberia, Iraq, and other countries”.

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