After more than fifty years of conflict, the government of Colombia and the leaders of the FARC gathered in Havana to negotiate a peace deal to finally end the war. This process is portrayed in the documentary film El fin de la guerra, directed by British filmmaker Marc Silver.
From the early stages of the process up until the final results of the referendum which decided the fate of the agreements, Silver explores one the most polarising political situations in the country’s history. To be able to cover the entire meaning of the peace process and the effects that it had on the people involved in the civil war, one would need more than 90 minutes.
However, Silver does a fine journalistic job that not only focuses on the ongoing efforts of Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader “Timochenko” to reach an agreement, but also includes crucial past moments of the war. Thus, a person who is not aware of the magnitude of the conflict can see how deeply it affected the Colombian population and why the peace process has raised such extreme reactions.
The amazing thing about El fin de la guerra is the level of access the filmmaker had to the leaders of the peace process. Many private places, key situations and conversations are shown first hand in the documentary. A drone shot over the presidential palace? A ride with the president and his sons on the way to sign the peace process? Congratulations to the people who accomplished that.
However, this level of clearance has a downside. One of the critical players of this process was ex-president Álvaro Uribe as leader of the opposition. Even though the documentary exposes him, his ideals, and his many followers, the level of confidence and proximity is not the same.
Silver glorifies the peace process and turns the opposition into a fully negative force. As a Colombian myself, who voted ‘Yes’ in the referendum, I have no problem with that. However, the documentary might occasionally pass as propaganda since the opposition never really had a chance to express their ideals and are quickly turned into the bad guys.
Overall, the documentary accomplishes the impossible task of presenting an introduction, middle and an end to a conflict that’s vastly complicated and has way too many sides. It is entertaining and touching at times. As Raúl Castro said in the beginning of the film: “Peace
in Colombia is not only possible, it’s essential.” The same applies to Silver’s approach, documentaries like these are not only possible, they are essential.
On a final note, as a fan of Gustavo Santaolalla’s work, the music on the documentary is flat and bland. A true let- down.
El fin de la guerra opens in theatres on September 20.