Film Review: Carta a una sombra

By bogotapost July 13, 2015
Carta a una sombra4.5/5 stars

In Carta a una sombre, Héctor Abad Faciolince narrates the tragic real life story of his father Héctor Abad Gómez. This documentary feature, co-directed by his daughter, Daniela, alongside filmmaker Miguel Salazar, recounts the powerful story of the doctor and professor who became a notary public figure in Medellín for his work as a human rights activist, eventually culminating in his brutal murder in 1987.

In 2006 Faciolince wrote El olvido que seremos (titled Oblivion: A memoir in English) to give a biographical account of his father’s life. In the film, Daniela, inspired by the book, has her perpetually grieving father reconstruct his most painful memories, including the devastating death of one of his sisters at the tender age of just 16.

A heartbreaking story that many will relate to; the experiences of the Abad family are not too distant from the experiences of thousands of families in Colombia who have endured the horrors of war for generations. It is an ode to the figure of a man idolised by his son; a misunderstood pacifist who was branded a “dangerous communist” for spreading liberal ideas in a deeply conservative society.

Daniela was only one year old when her grandfather was killed, so this project was a way to gain a deeper understanding of the man he really was. Testimonies of her relatives and an impressive compilation of archive photos, videos and audio tapes that so vividly depict the people and events described by the film guided her through this voyage of discovery.

This film acts as a statement against violence in the form of a touching family portrait. It is also an essential historical document helping to shape the consciousness of a nation that so desperately needs to be reminded of its past mistakes, in the hope of never repeating them.

By Jazid Contreras