Panama Deception | Coverup | Destination Nicaragua | Raw Footage
Destination Nicaragua: The Documentary
By Joan Friedberg
I believe it's somewhere in South
America," speculates one woman in a
street interview in the opening scenes of
the recently completed video documentary,
The woman typifies many people who
have only a vague idea of where Nicaragua is,
let alone any understanding of its political
controversies or the lifestyle of its people.
This documentary is aimed at those folks.
Produced by two ex-Topangans, Barbara
Trent and David Kasper, the documentary
follows groups of delegates from Witness for
Peace and other groups as they travel to
Nicaragua to see for themselves what's going
on down there.
These are not rabble-rousers, peaceniks, or
radicals, but groups of patriotic, church-
going, courageous, but scared middle-America
citizens who are going to Nicaragua with
their shovels, their cameras, and plenty of
good intentions. "I've never been outa Colorado," admits one of the delegates, Reverend
Through the narrative of "Cagney and
Lacey" television star Tyne Daly, we are
given a brief overview of the problems facing
this small country, and we get a few glimpses,
from stock news footage, of President Reagan
telling it like it isn't.
Throughout most of the documentary, and
especially in the first half, there seems to be
no particular point of view. It merely raises
questions. For example, it points out the
dissent of the Catholic church and claims of
press censorship under the Sandinista government. And it shows a Sandinista official
bluntly admitting the purchase of weapons
from the Soviets.
We follow the delegates on a tour of two
cooperative farms, appropriated from land
confiscated from a few former wealthy Somocistas, and we can see how they are working
productively under the Sandinistas. We are
also told new literacy and health care are
making great strides under the new regime.
When the delegates arrive in Jalapa, they
meet a mother who describes how she found
her young son's mutilated body after one
contra attack on their village. After this
heart-wrenching scene, one wonders how
anyone could want to support the contras,
but the film makes no comment.
This objective approach is both its strength
and its weakness. These filmmakers bent
over backwards to make an objective documentary that could be widely shown. At
times it seems agonizingly objective. But
taking a strong view in favor of the Sandinistas would surely have relegated the whole
effort to radical oblivion.
Aside from the horror stories about the
contras, what about the Sandinistas? Communist governments are categorically depicted as "evil empires," to quote one reliable
source, and yet here we are witness to a
communist country whose people, finally
feeling empowered, are industrious, ambitious in a cooperative rather than an individual sense, patriotic, and free to a large
extent. Saddened by their horrible past, they
look to the future with hope.
In the last scenes, back at home once again,
we get to witness some redneck goonies
cavorting around a pro-contra rally revealing
their profound ignorance, a scene which
redeemed the whole film for me.
And we see our heroes, the American
travelers from all over the country, who are
visibly changed by their experiences.
Regardless of where we're coming from
politically, we need to look at the realities of
the Nicaraguan people's lives and how our
foreign policy affects them.
This documentary gives us that chance.
"Destination Nicaragua," 58 minutes.
Produced by Barbara Trent and David Kasper. Narration by Tyne Daly. Music by:
Jorge Strunz, Arlo Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and
Directors Guild Premiere March 25
The LA. benefit premiere with host John
Stockwell and a score of special celebrity
guests will screen Tuesday March 25 at 8
pm at the Directors Guild in Hollywood.
For advance reservations contact the Empowerment Project at 213-390-9858.
13107 Venice Blvd., LA, CA. 90066.
Messenger, March 13,1986
Read actual review.
To order this film click here.
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