Opening 5 Nov 2009
Fausta (Magaly Solier) suffers from a rare sickness which, according to director Claudia Llosa, actually exists in her country of Peru, although many doctors say it is a psychological problem not a medical one. As a baby, Fausta was infected by her mother’s milk, which had been contaminated when her mother was raped by rebels who terrorized the mountain villages. As her mother dies, Fausta sings the tale of her mother, explaining that she had seen this act of violence from inside her mother’s womb. This illness has made Fausta’s life stressful since she is unable to move through the town on her own. With the death of her mother, Fausta carries a burden of responsibility. She must pay for the burial and wishes to take her back to her mountain village.
The movie is enriched with cultural scenes of mass wedding ceremonies, the colorful catering services and the reality of the medical services in the rural regions. Llosa researched this area extensively and wanted to capture this cultural history there. Even the actress speaks a language which is dying out in this area. We see the division of rich and poor as well as the exploitation of the poor. The story is poetic and has the illusion of walking into a Frida Kahlo painting put into motion. Llosa uses the potato as a symbol in association with Fausta’s sickness, which illustrates how common but resilient the potato can be. This was the beginning of a success story for the World Cinema Fund since they contributed fifty thousand euros for the screenwriting of this film. It won both the Golden Bear for Best Film as well as The FIPRESCI Prize at the 2009 Berlinale. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)