La Sierra - An Emotional Journey at LAFF

La Sierra begins with a disturbing scene of a young man's bullet-wounded body, decaying in the bushes. Crowds of young children watch as two women hug the dead body in tears, and frantically feel for a pulse. The people in this small community are at war amongst each other fighting over territory. The documentary unfolds with the story of Edison, 22, the leader of the paramilitary gang conflicting with guerillas for control of La Sierra, elaborately describes how he was absorbed into a violent and promiscuous lifestyle. From his intrigue of guns at ripe age of 15, to becoming the most feared man in his neighborhood, you can see the pain in his eyes, which he attempts to hide with smile as he discusses the politics behind the war happening in his community. A hidden cry for help, and a longing for a way out of his violent lifestyle are verbalized in his narrative. His life was followed closely until it ends bluntly with a blow to head.  

Cielo, 17, a single mother with no support lives a sullen life where her only happiness revolves around a man (a Para militant) in jail who has no desire to marry her, no money, no hope, and no future. With society provoking her to sell her body for money because of her beautiful face, she struggles to maintain her sanity by begging and selling candy instead. Her earnings in pesos is equivalent to $2.00- 5.00 US dollars per day. Selling her body would give her the means to support her father-less child, yet she resorts to the respectable lifestyle that would keep her below the poverty level for the rest of her life. Eventually, after a harsh break-up with her jailed boyfriend, she finds a lover who is not involved in gangs, but makes a choice to dance at nightclub to earn money to support her new love and son.

Jesus, 19, who is also a paramilitary gang member, indulges in the drug scene of snorting cocaine and smoking marijuana. It is obvious that drugs had overtaken his lost soul as his words slur and his speech is slow and elementary. ' I don't think about the future,' he stated. I try to think in the present because I know that my future is death. Milling the streets protecting his territory, Jesus is entangled in world of violence and drugs.


The three stories referenced above are heart wrenching. This documentary eloquently shows three lives of third-world citizens who describe their fate, and their dreams deferred. The haunting images of death will bring you to a pool of tears when the closing credits roll across the screen. Two journalists risk their lives in order to present this harrowing true story of the struggle of young people living a life of war, drugs, and hopelessness. This must-see documentary is a way to escape from our cache American lives, and to show humility for how fortunate we are to be citizens of the United States. It will stimulate the minds of audiences everywhere and stir up riveting questions and powerful political debate.


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