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Now and Then: Remarkable New Doc 'La Camioneta,' a Masterful Miniature (TRAILER)

Photo of Matt Brennan By Matt Brennan | Thompson on Hollywood! May 29, 2013 at 2:10PM

Spotsylvania County, Virginia and Queztal City, Guatemala are separated by nearly 3,000 miles of road, and by what would seem, at first, an unbridgeable cultural distance. But in Mark Kendall's remarkable documentary "La Camioneta" -- a brilliant microhistory of our globalized world -- you're hard pressed to consider them anything but neighbors.
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All too often, though, the proverb of trash and treasure works in reverse, and if from a political standpoint "La Camioneta" neglects to make the long tradition of U.S. malfeasance in Latin America explicit, its subtle construction builds to an emotional impact that far exceeds its size. The camioneta that emerges when the tape and newspaper are peeled away glistens in red, white, and blue -- and chrome. Its souped-up, modified Americanism at once nods to the United States' official ideals and critiques its baleful reality, casting a shine, as the film does, into the shadows.

The film ends as it began, traversing the border. The scene shifts from children in Guatemala celebrating the new camioneta's unveiling to children in the United States, smilingly blissfully -- and blissfully unaware -- as their school bus glides through their comfortable suburb. "On a journey, there is nothing that is written," one of the drivers reflects in voiceover. "You always meet new people, new friends. And even if they weren't really friends, you shared the same bus for a short time. And that makes you part of the same journey." The journey depicted in "La Camioneta" belongs, then, not only to Kendall, to bus drivers, to Guatemalans. It's ours, too.
 
"La Camioneta" premiered at SXSW in 2012. It can be seen in theatrical release this Friday, May 31 through June 6 at Brooklyn's reRun Theater; June 7-13 at Los Angeles' Downtown Independent; and July 2-7 at San Diego's Digital Gym. No downloads or streams are available as yet.


This article is related to: Now and Then, Reviews, Genres, Documentary, Independents, SXSW


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