Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

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Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby hengcs » Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:27 am

Director: Luis Mandoki
Cast: Carlos Padilla

I watched the movie at Sonoma Valley Film Festival 2005

This movie was Mexicos official submission for the Oscar.
The official website is here:

It is based on the true life story of screenwriter Oscar Torres! It is about the civil war in El Salvador in the 80s which caused about 75,000 deaths, 8000 disappearances, and nearly 1 million exiles. The US government helped equip and train the Salvadoran army and provided over 1 billion dollars in aid.

Hence, I am not sure if Americans, the people of Salvador, and the audience will see a different movie and feel differently about the movie.

As the movie depicts the war from an eleven-year-old boy's perspective, critics and audience should be more forgiving for any bias stand against the army, and more in favor of the guerillas. However, there are some scenes where the director tries to balance off that depiction:
(i) the mother remarked that the gunshots could have been from the army or guerillas, it does not matter who the shots are from, innocents are killed.
(ii) the guerillas also put the children at risk when they sought refuge in schools, etc.
(iii) recruiting children was not only commited by the army, but also by the guerillas.
In essence, the director is not trying to depict both sides of the story, but from an eleven-year-old boy's perspective.

What I like?
-- It has a good mix of fun and laughter (as children try to live their normal day life of what children typically do) as well as shock and tears (as children try to survive their "normal" day life of what civil war is about).
-- It is a simple story without trying to be too cryptic or too philosophical about rights and wrongs of any political agenda. More essentially, it is NOT just a story about El Salvador, but about many other similar wars that try to recruit children (e.g., Colombia, etc). Presently, there are MANY children who are serving the army around the world!
-- There are lots of daily details (or younger days details) that the audience would reminisce about ... being parents ... being children ... etc

Overall, I think it is an excellent movie!

At the end of the movie, there were some audiences from Salvador who felt very impacted by the movie.

Q&A with Oscar Torres:

Q: Are the cast professional actors? And are they Mexican?
A: The cast are primarily Mexican except for the mother (a Chilean). Noteworthy, the main protagonist, Chava (Carlos Padilla Lenero), is not a professional actor.

Q: Why the movie ...?
A: Initially, he only wanted to write something about the banned political folk song, but the director wanted him to tell his story ... He was hesistant but he finally did ... When he wanted to use the nickname about his sister and the jokes about her, his sister thought for a few days before consenting with a condition: He had to change her name ... hiaks hiaks

Q: Where did he meet up with his dad, etc?
A: In LA. He also studied in America. His mother, sister and 1 brother attended the screening! Apparently, he has 2 younger brothers. The movie simplify it to 1.

Q: Did he manage to find out what happened to his girlfriend?
* possible spoilers *
A: She did survive the civil war. She is now married with a kid.
* end of spoilers *

Q: Why did the army or guerilla recruit children of 12?
A: There were no adult male left. Initially, the age would be 15. As the years go by, it became 12. And even 8 or 9.

Q: Distribution issues ...
A: It is doing well worldwide (by Lions Gate and ...) except in America, where they are still trying to convince Sony Classics and/or New Market. The screenwriter jokingly/seriously appealed to the audience to help write to these companies to help distribute in America.
Hmmm ... any takers from this forum ...?

Q: What do you think about America's role in this civil war?
A: He informed that a lot of audience has asked, "Do you hate America?" He did not answer directly. He only highlighted that the information at the end of the movie is rather factual. He also tried to explain why Americans became involved, when the issues became portrayed as communism and the fight for freedom.

That's all that I can recall.

Once again, an excellent movie!

Re: Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby hengcs » Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:22 am

Finally US is distributing it ...
The trailer ...

Re: Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby trevor826 » Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:48 pm

Caught it this afternoon, a film with its heart in the right place and one that is aimed squarely at showing that no matter which side is right or wrong (if either), the true victims of any war are the innocents caught in the middle. The pain is multiplied when you're talking about civil war because communities, families and friends are torn apart on opposing sides.

Child soldiers, forced to take up arms at ages where they should still be in their mothers arms are an unfortunately all too common sight in recent years in Africa and as this film ably demonstrates in El Salvador. Voces Inocentes tells the story of an eleven year old dreading his twelth birthday, he knows that the army will come and forcefully (if neccessary) enlist him, the rebels do not force children to join, they just put themselves forward as the only hope of rescue from the army (though of course it pretty much adds upto the same thing).

The film is incredibly effective at giving a good impression of what it would be like to be caught in the crossfire as the Government troops and rebels battle it out through the streets of the shanty towns even to the point where a firefight rages through the local school and church. It also shows how children adapt to situations (generally far better than adults are able to) and still find time to play and have a little fun.

I left the screening feeling that I'd seen a good film but not one that should have really got to me in some way, I felt it was a little too slick at times, too many completely unneccessary Hollywood style moments. This was based on a true story and I think it would have made a more convincing and moving film if they had stuck closer to the truth. It could by all means be true but the scene where a couple of the boys are executed felt far too contrived especially with the way our protagonist was saved at the last millisecond.

Overall then, good intentions, a deserving story but to my jaded eye a little too slick.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby hengcs » Fri Aug 18, 2006 5:39 am

i still recall that "Hollywood" scene/or shld i say very "dramatic" scene ...

glad that you watched it ... in a theater? or DVD?
anyway, now you can identify with the quiz better ... ha ha ha

Re: Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby trevor826 » Fri Aug 18, 2006 9:10 am

I saw it in the cinema, on the last day of its one week run, I only wish I'd taken my youngest son, he'd have appreciated it.

It isn't that long since I saw Shooting Dogs and that almost certainly detracted from my feelings for Voces Inocentes, again a civil war, again based on a true story and again a few moments that were too polished but overall it had a greater affect on me.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby hengcs » Sat Aug 19, 2006 12:43 am

Did you write a review on Shooting Dogs?
where is it?

I have watched it in April too. But becos there have been abt 3 movies on Rwanda over these two years, I have procrastinated my review.

hiaks hiaks ...

PS: if you have read my review, I hinted that Innocent Voices can be more for kids (a bit like Zozo). I do like the choreography of the opening "rain scene" and the actual "rain scene" (later) ... i.e., the quiz scene ...

Re: Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby trevor826 » Sun Aug 20, 2006 12:23 pm

I didn't write a review for Shooting Dogs because it'll be a while before anyone else gets the chance to see it. I do have the dvd so can easily write up some notes if there's any interest.

Voces Inocentes should do well but it hasn't had the hype that films such as City of God received so it'll probably sink without trace. Unusually for me I went to an evening screening and it was virtually empty.

Cheers Trev.

PS: The admin has deleted all the empty spaces (i.e., lots of return keys)

Re: Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby hengcs » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:28 am

do write a review ... * hiaks hiaks *
i guess the film is making its festival rounds ...

for those who have watched all the 3 films ...
you may even like to critic all 3 ...

* spare me ... escape ... run * ... ha ha ha

Re: Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) (2004) (Mexico)

Postby trevor826 » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:30 am

The R2 dvd was released recently by Universal Pictures and is very dissapointing, sure the picture transfer is okay but only stereo sound, burnt in subs and a complete lack of extras apart from a trailer?

Not really good enough and smacks of money grabbing, these days very few films are released on single layer dvds but this is one of them.

Shame on you Universal Pictures , even small independents put this dvd to shame.

Cheers Trev.

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