Cine Las Americas 2013
By Caitlyn Collins | April 24, 2013
Director: Gabriel González Rodríguez
Writer: Gabriel González Rodríguez
Starring: David Trejos, Julieth Restrepo, Alejandro Prieto, Carolina Galeano, Biassini Segura
The students of the rough and violent neighborhood, Estrella del Sur, are directionless and hopeless. The film – written, directed, and produced by Gabriel González Rodríguez – focuses on the lives of these students as they attend the local high school. While high school isn’t always a pleasant place, these teenagers live in simultaneous fear of their fellow classmates as well as the Black Hand, a mafia-esque group whose goal is to purge the neighborhood of miscreants.
A new literature teacher (Julieth Restrepo) comes to the school with the hope of giving the students some sense of purpose and direction. It quickly becomes apparent that neither she nor the school’s principal have any real authority.
Toño (David Trejos) appears to be the only hard-working student at the school. He takes care of his little sister, attends class and works after school to raise money for his future. For this he is mocked as a dreamer by his closest friend, Midget (Luis Alejandro Prieto). While trying to stay clear of classroom trouble, Toño builds a rapport with the new professora that borders on sexual attraction. The film also provides brief snippets that indicate that Toño, while seemingly honest, is mixed up with and being threatened by the Black Hand for reasons that are not entirely clarified.
Estrella del Sur captures the shear senseless violence that haunts these young people daily. Despite threats against their lives they still strive to live and enjoy life the way most teenagers do, usually through acts of defiance and rebellion. However, the film repeatedly shocks the viewer with the disgusting power plays that occur between the Black Hand and the students as well as between the students themselves. You can’t help but feel completely heartbroken for the tragedies that befall the two innocent characters, Midget and Mónica (Carolina Galeano).
The viewer seems to be plopped into the middle of the story and many questions are left unanswered. How is the Black Hand getting away with this? Where are the police? Why are parents not in an uproar? While there are flaws in the storyline, the performances throughout this film are outstanding, giving Estrella del Sur a shockingly realistic quality.