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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Viernes de cine


Esta tengo ganas de ver:

Portrait of a Leader Undone by a War Against Terrorism

By A. O. SCOTT
The career of Alberto K. Fujimori, who was president of Peru from 1990 to 2000, surely holds a special place in the annals of Latin American dictatorship. That region has had no shortage of strongmen, whose allegiances to left- or right-wing ideologies may be less significant than their adherence to the long and diverse tradition of caudillismo, or boss rule. Mr. Fujimori's tale, the subject of Ellen Perry's excellent documentary, in some ways fits a familiar, unhappy pattern, as good intentions and impressive early accomplishments give way to corruption and authoritarianism.

But some of the details would beggar even the feverish imagination of a novelist of magical realism, and "The Fall of Fujimori" offers, among other things, the latest proof that nonfiction filmmaking can be stranger than any make-believe. The film, which makes use of archival clips and interviews with Peruvian journalists and political figures, is built around an extraordinary series of conversations with Mr. Fujimori himself. Interviewed in Japan, where he was both a fugitive from international justice and considering ways to return to his old job, he appears both steely and soft-spoken, obligingly candid one moment and defensive the next. (Last fall, he was arrested in Chile at the request of the Peruvian authorities, who are seeking his extradition.) The son of Japanese immigrants and an engineer by training, Mr. Fujimori emerged suddenly from obscurity in the 1990 Peruvian presidential elections. His campaign slogan - "A president like you" - may have seemed counterintuitive given his ethnic and professional background, but many ordinary Peruvians, their patience strained by drug trafficking, political violence and economic stagnation, believed he could bring peace and prosperity.

At first, he seemed to make good on their hopes. Throughout the 1980's, Peru had been menaced by two guerrilla armies. The more violent was the Shining Path, a fanatical Maoist sect led by a former philosophy professor named Abimael Guzman Reynoso, whose model of revolution owed more to Pol Pot than to Che Guevara. Mr. Fujimori and his security chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, crushed the Shining Path and captured Mr. Guzman, but they also rode roughshod over Peru's democratic institutions and legal procedures. Death squads remained active, prison conditions were appalling and citizens suspected of terrorism were tried in secret before panels of hooded military judges.

In 1992, frustrated by the independence of the legislature, Mr. Fujimori engineered what Peruvians call an autogolpe, or self-coup, which led to a new constitution drastically increasing his power. In his second presidential campaign, in 1995, Fujimori, who had tamed Peru's inflation as well as its guerrillas, was re-elected in a landslide. Then came a four-month hostage crisis at the Japanese Embassy, followed by revelations that Mr. Montesinos had been bribing almost anyone who came into his office, and before his third term began, Mr. Fujimori was faxing in his resignation from Japan.

Ms. Perry relates this chronicle with brisk efficiency, lingering over particularly curious episodes - like the presidential candidacy of Mr. Fujimori's wife in 1995, after which she was replaced as first lady by their daughter, a college sophomore - and filling in gaps with clear narration. If anything, "The Fall of Fujimori" might have benefited from a bit more attention to background. It works less as a comprehensive history than as the visual equivalent of a magazine profile, using a fascinating and somewhat mysterious individual as a lens through which complicated events can be examined.

Mr. Fujimori seems mild-mannered and unpretentious, though Ms. Perry does manage to bring out the evasive and paranoid aspects of his temperament. She also, with great subtlety, allows some implications of his career to ripple beyond Peru in the 1990's, turning "The Fall of Fujimori" into a cautionary essay on the risks to democracy posed by the fight against terrorism.

Produced and directed by Ellen Perry; written (in English and Spanish, with English subtitles) by Ms. Perry, Kim Roberts and Zack Anderson; directors of photography, Junji Aoki, Mel Henry and Ms. Perry; edited by Ms. Roberts; music by Marc Adler, with flute improvisations by Quique Cruz; released by Stardust Pictures. At the Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. Running time: 83 minutes. This film is not rated.

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