Madeinusa - 2006 award winning Peruvian film directed by Claudia Llosa. Madeinusa is a sweet-faced 14-year-old girl who lives in a dirt-floor house and dreams of the world beyond the village. It is the custom of her town that from Good Friday at three in the afternoon through Easter Sunday, sin does not exist. On the eve of this time of small-town debauchery, Salvador, a young geologist from Lima, accidentally comes to town. The town greets him with curiousity and ire, then imprisons him out of fear that he will interfere with the festivities. But Madeinusa, ever curious about things from the big city, is drawn to him , and her fate begins to turn in unexpected ways. Stars Magaly Solier and Carlos J. de la Torre. Unrated (rated 13 in Argentina) (but contains scenes of sexual abuse, sex and language so it probably would have been rated R), in Spanish with English subtitles. 103 minutes.
Please do not read any further if you don't want too much of the film given away, but I thought this review described the film better than the above description on the back of the dvd:
A corpse being offered another drink, the bloodstained thighs of a maidenhead lost, dead rats (for luck), three days of religious celebration when God is dead, and a ritual for the whole village so secret that a visiting stranger is locked up: these are just some of the strange, wonderful images that remind us more of the Wicker Man than modern day Peru. But in a country where many rural areas are still isolated and barely accessible, where Christianity made its mark more in name than in spirit, and where the outback life is rarely depicted in Western cinemas, Madeinusa comes as a shock, a spellbinding insight, and a refreshingly different fable.
The nearest telephone is a three mile walk to the next village and the daily grind consists mostly of cultivating enough food to subsist. It comes as no surprise when Madeinusa, a pretty adolescent, is enamoured by the suave young man (Salvador) from Lima. He only stops in the remote Manayaycuna (the town no-one can enter) when the bus refuses to go any further due to floods. He symbolises everything she dreams the big city to be - and everything her present life is not. In Manayaycuna her life is mapped out for her, including arguments with her sister and the ever-present prospect of institutionalised incest with her father, the corrupt Mayor. The distant world outside includes things like pretty shoes and make-up - according to a magazine she once saw - but no-one would deliver such things as far away as Manayaycuna.
Shortly after Salvador arrives, Madeinusa wins the pageant held to choose the most Immaculate Virgin. Her heart is warmed by a Polaroid picture he takes of her. The Rituals that follow are a paganised version of the days leading up to Easter. An image of Christ is un-nailed and taken down before the beautifully bedecked virgin kisses him on the lips. The three days of celebration are marked by fireworks and festivities. They are the Holy Time, when God is dead, and as Madeinusa points out to Salvador (while taking some of her clothes off), this means He can't see any sins.
Madeinusa is a remarkably crafted work from first time filmmaker Claudia Llosa. Superb camera-work and vibrant colors let her linger on details without ever boring us. The roughly cobbled streets; the vegetables and pulses in worn peasant hands preparing them; the bright, highly intricate costumes; the wide open plains, and the snow capped mountains: Llosa takes us on a journey into the interior of a country that few of us will know well, and capitalizes on our sense of awe to weave her fantastic tale. Like Salvador, we are almost voyeurs in a forbidden world: "The town doesn't want a gringo in Holy Time." The twists towards the end suggest that when fate hands out justice it may not be to everyone's liking (it may irritate some who long for traditional happy resolutions - at least until you think it through), but Madeinusa is more fable than fairy-tale. If it is too measured for viewers who prefer a fast paced drama, for those with the patience to listen it is a rare and slightly unsettling work. Madeinusa has a feeling of authenticity and dedication to the craft, as well as heralding a remarkable new talent in Director Claudia Llosa.
Claudia Llosa explained many times why she made this film (she is Peruvian). It's not a documentary. It's not a mockumentary. It's not a portrayal of reality. It's not a film to raise racial prejudices. It's not a film abusive of the people portrayed on it. It's this crazy idea (a script idea that came out of a "dream") of what would it be like if a town (BTW: Manayaycuna actually means the place no-one-can-enter and is non-existent) believed that during three days there's no sin, since "God is dead".