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by Margareta Heinrich, Alexander Held and Irmgard Heinrich
La Esperanza, shot in Super8, is a documentary that leaves nothing to imagination, that faithfully testifies to what is happening on the other side of the world, that shows us painful images and that, through the stories of those who are personally involved in this ‘rebirth journey’, gives life to a sincere and exhaustive fresco of the life of a people who are still paying the consequences of years of dictatorship.
Towards a better future
In the course of her career, director and documentary filmmaker Margareta Heinrich has often taken an interest in Third World events, filming with her camera realities that are unknown to us, but which, in some way, affect us all closely. Particularly interesting in this regard is the documentary La Esperanza, made in 1980 together with Alexander Held and Irmgard Heinrich and focusing on conditions in Nicaragua after the end of Anastasio Somoza Debayle’s dictatorship.
What should be a period of rebirth, therefore, still presents numerous problems. High illiteracy, bad hygiene and disease are commonplace. What is to be done? Austria, for its part, has tried to help improve the living conditions of the Nicaraguan people by building a hospital for children, called La Esperanza. The road ahead, however, is still very long and difficult.
Margareta Heinrich, therefore, travelled to Nicaragua with her small crew in order to document all this. Her La Esperanza, filmed entirely in Super8, is a documentary that leaves nothing to imagination, that faithfully testifies to what is happening on the other side of the world, that shows us painful images and that, through the stories of those who are personally involved in this “rebirth journey”, gives life to a sincere and exhaustive fresco of the life of a people who are still paying the consequences of years of dictatorship.
Some mothers hold their babies while sitting in the hospital waiting room. Some teachers explain to students of all ages how to hold a pen and write the letters of the alphabet. The city streets are constantly crowded and all their sounds and colours make La Esperanza an incredibly alive and pulsating film. The three directors, for their part, decide to remain invisible in front of the camera and not make their presence felt. Not even when some of the people interviewed address the camera directly. A camera that moves with agility through alleys and courtyards or along hospital corridors and that, in order to show us reality as it is, renounces any filter and even music, which, in this case, is purely diegetic.
A simple and direct directorial approach, therefore, proves to be the best solution in introducing us to such an apparently distant world. The viewer observes what is happening on the big screen and suddenly feels part of that reality too. An undoubtedly dramatic reality, in which, however, there is also a faint hope. Just as the name of the hospital and, of course, the title of the film indicate. A hope that is expressed so well by children in traditional dress all dancing together during a school party. The three filmmakers have perfectly hit the mark and have given us a precious document of an important period in history, a documentary with an extremely simple, realistic, yet cautiously optimistic approach, which thanks to the sincerity and lyricism of what is filmed also proves to be particularly sophisticated.
Original title: La Esperanza
Directed by: Margareta Heinrich, Alexander Held, Irmgard Heinrich
Country/year: Austria / 1980
Running time: 57’
Screenplay: Margareta Heinrich, Alexander Held, Irmgard Heinrich
Cinematography: Margareta Heinrich, Johannes Treytl
Produced by: Margareta Heinrich, Alexander Held, Irmgard Heinrich