The Tiniest Place

To walk into the jungle-shrouded village of Cinquera, El Salvador, is to enter a world where ghosts walk, passing back and forth between the past and present. Here, decades after a brutal civil war annihilated the village, survivors return to bury their dead and rebuild the community from the ashes. During the civil war of 1980 to 1992, the village was invaded by the National Guard, which targeted it as a potential haven for guerrillas of the FMLN opposition. Cinquera was literally wiped off the map, disappearing temporarily from official charts in a conflict that countrywide resulted in 80,000 deaths and tens of thousands more disappeared. We see the imprint of that on the resolute and composed survivors now sowing new seeds in Salvadoran-born Mexican filmmaker Tatiana Huezo's stunning debut feature. In an unobtrusive portrait of collective memory, we mingle with villagers as they recall horrifying ordeals of rape, mutilation, and torture; a man talks about the madness that consumed him; an old lady habitually talks to her dead daughter. Of those who managed to escape into the woods, many joined the FMLN (whose rebel flag still appears painted on the sides of houses). A remarkable example of Mexico's bourgeoning documentary scene, The Tiniest Place guides us through this landscape with a contemplative, poetical eye, as the deep forest looms in mute witness to the testimonies we overhear. Battle scars and wounds may run deep, but they prove unable to destroy the soul of Cinquera.

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