KILLER'S PARADISE (Giselle Portenier). Subtitled. 83 minutes. Screens at the Royal (608 College), Thursday (March 8), 7 pm. Free. Presented by Amnesty International as part of International Women's Day, followed by Q&A with director. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Life for women in Guatemala is hard, all the more so because it could end prematurely in horrific violence. That's the story told in Killer's Paradise, a BBC/NFB co-production looking at some of the 2,000 murders that have gone unpunished in the Central American country since 1999.
The victims of the gruesome killings are often raped and mutilated. In the time it took to shoot the film, 60 women were killed. The film's bias is clear, but the filmmakers give the perpetrators and the powers that be plenty of time to defend - or hang - themselves.
Some of the identified killers are clearly psychopaths, but others offer variations on the old excuse "She was asking for it." Among explanations for the lack of legal action, take your pick: police corruption, laziness and incompetence; women's second-class status; a fear of reprisals that sends victims' families into hiding; a fucked-up legal system that until early last year allowed rapists to go free if they offered to marry their victims.
This is an important film because it highlights a problem that doesn't make headlines every week, but it can leave you feeling both angry and impotent. Let's hope viewers will be inspired to channel those feelings into action.