Director Simón Mesa Soto’s debut feature film Amparo is set to premiere in Cannes during Critics’ Week as one of the seven films selected for the event’s 60th edition, taking place from 7th until 15th July 2021. After scooping up an award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 for his short film Leidi, Soto presents Amparo, a touching tale of resolution in the face of corruption in 1990s Colombia.
Amparo is a single mother trying to make ends meet as she raises her 18-year-old son Elias and eight-year-old daughter Karen. She is alarmed when Elias, a college dropout who spends his time idling in the streets, fails to return home one day. After a distressing search, she finds that he was drafted by the army. He was unceremoniously carried away by a military truck and is due to be sent to the country’s most hostile war zone within hours. She embarks on a race against time to try and save him from his fate, but in a community where every individual must fight for their own survival, she soon finds that she must rely on her own resilience and limited resources to protect her children.
Poignant in its depiction of injustice, Amparo is all the more powerful for not overdoing the drama, but rather showing how the endless disappointments that the protagonist and her children have experienced make them confront new problems with a detachment that can sometimes looks like apathy. Aside from small outbursts of feeling, the characters seem unfazed by the blows they endure. This attitude hints at a personal but also a collective history of misfortunes long enough to have numbed their feelings. The film suggests that poverty condemns people to move through a net of unspoken rules revolving around money and power in order to get by. Although Amparo’s themes have been explored at large on the big screen, the film effectively uses cinematic devices (above all, the frequent use of close-ups) to maximise the audience’s interest in the story of its flawed protagonists. The linear plot is uncomplicated and yet engaging from beginning to end, and it manages to transmit the sense of desolation that its characters carry with them at all times.
Amparo does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.