Some readers of this blog are probably aware of my interest in El Salvador. It’s an interest that is quite personal, as an uncle of mine is a priest who has been living and working there since the 1980s. This “personal connection” is indeed what sparked my interest in Latin America and, eventually, in liberation theologies, especially the work of Salvadoran theologians Ignacio Ellacuria and Jon Sobrino.
So I’m always interested when new documentaries about El Salvador are made. And there are a few new interesting ones to highlight. The first is Return to El Salvador which comes from Jamie Moffett and the folks behind the very good film The Ordinary Radicals. A summary of the film is here and you can view the first seven minutes of the film here:
Tim’s El Salvador Blog has alerted us about two shorter films on the water crisis in El Salvador: Until the Last Drop: Tales from the Battle for El Salvador’s Water and Chronic Neglect: The Water Crisis in El Salvador. Trailers for those films can be seen at Tim’s blog.
In reading about these new films, I was reminded of Esther Cassidy’s 2001 documentary Enemies of War which remains one of the strongest films on El Salvador that I have seen. I first saw it at the Ignatian Family Teach-In at the annual protest at the School of the Americas in 2001. After years of trying to track down the film — to my knowledge it’s available for sale only to institutions and not for private viewing — I finally acquired a copy and reviewed it a few weeks ago.
I know of no other film that so effectively brings together the political context, the religious dimension, and the perspective of everyday people to tell the story of El Salvador’s civil war and the involvement of the United States government in it. I would recommend the film for use in courses on Latin American liberation theology, faith and politics, Catholic social thought, and the Roman Catholic Church in the twentieth century. And fortunately Cassidy has promised further updates in film on life in El Salvador since the peace accords.