EL SALVADOR 30 MIN, 2020
A ruthless hitman for the 18th Street gang serves his sentence inside an evangelical Salvadoran prison, where he is guilty not only of his crimes, but of an unforgivable sin under God and gang: being gay.
Documentary filmmaker based in El Salvador, working in film and TV as director and producer. She has a degree in Audiovisual Communication from Carlos III University (Madrid) and holds a Master in Documentary Filmmaking from ESCAC (Barcelona). She has lived in El Salvador since 2013, where she founded her production company La Jaula Abierta, specialized in documentary films. Her feature-length debut CACHADA (2019) was awarded at SXSW Film Festival and DocsBarcelona, among others, and selected at more than 50 film festivals around the world, as Yamagata Documentary Festival, Göteborg Fim Festival, DocPoint Helsinki or Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. UNFORGIVABLE (2020) is her second film.
I have lived in El Salvador for 7 years, in which I have tried to assimilate and understand a daily life that still seems to me extreme, wild, and a society that has learned to live (even to be happy) in the middle of a normality full of violence and cruelty that were alien to me before I arrived.
The main agents of this violence are the gangs, and the majority of stories that are told to the world from El Salvador relate the war between these criminal structures and the way in which it defines Salvadoran society. It is one of the best known, studied and explained topics about this region. For that reason, and because I considered that I had nothing new to contribute, I had never considered making a documentary related to that subject. However, when my husband — a Salvadoran journalist specialized in gangs issues — told me, astonished, about those peculiar prisoners who inhabited a small isolation cell inside a gang prison, I knew I had a story that had not been told before, through which I could add a new and unique perspective.
Although the two main Salvadoran gangs, 18th Street gang and Mara Salvatrucha 13, are fighting a deadly war with each other, they share norms and values that regulate their internal life. One of those norms, perhaps one of the best known by the rest of society, is that gangs consider homosexuality a shameful aberration and therefore punish it with death, with death by torture. All the inmates of that isolation cell were gang members and were isolated for having openly declared their homosexuality. The very fact that they existed seemed incredible to me.
I wondered why someone would integrate a criminal organization that hates their identity in such a way; I wondered even if inside that tiny cell they finally feel free; I wondered about their own notions of the masculinity in a macho culture. But all those questions were overshadowed when, during filming, one of them told us: «Killing a man is not that difficult, what is very difficult is to love one, that is something unnatural».
In what kind of society is that idea conceivable? Worse yet: What if he was right? That man was not trying to ask a question, rather he gave us a deep explanation of his own world. I decided that through this film I would try to make sense of that sentence. The result is a documentary that portrays how far a society can break down and pervert the notions of right and wrong, love and hate, acceptable and repudiable, forgivable and unforgivable. A story whose protagonist live on the boundaries of everything mentioned above and that today is still impossible for me to define with certainty what I myself feel for them.
- IDFA / Netherlands — Best Short Documentary
- Hot Docs / Canada — Best International Short Documentary
- Slamdance / USA —Best Short Documentary
- Guanajuato IFF / Mexico — Best International Short Documentary
- DocsMx / Mexico — Special Jury Mention
- Teluride FF / USA
- RIDM / Canada
- St.Louis FF / USA
- Atlanta FF / USA
- DMZ Docs / South Korea
DOKer 2021 — Short Competition