Guerilla Girl


“Freedom fighter, terrorist or borrower of other people’s cosmetics? You decide…”

Not to be confused with the (rather tedious, IMHO) bunch of New York feminist artists, this is about Isabel, the well-educated daughter of a middle-class family, who opts to toss it all away and go into the jungles of Colombia to fight the revolution with FARC, the insurgents who have been rebelling against the government for more than 40 years. She undergoes training, both political and military, and has to adapt to an environment radically different from the one she knew before. It’s not always successful, and you wonder how she’s ever going to become a “freedom fighter” when she can’t even take part in the slaughter of a cow. [shown, below right – PETA activists will really want to avoid this one. Trust me.] But she soldiers on – pun not intended – and by the end, seems to be adjusting better to the prospect of spending the rest of her life on the run.

You could certainly criticize the film for an uncritical portrait of FARC – questions raised, such as their involvement with drugs, are quickly dismissed, though most independent observers believe this is a major source of funding for the group. However, once sense the film-makers didn’t want to go down that avenue, and since they were out in the jungle, with a group of heavily-armed insurgents, I can hardly blame them for letting that angle slide. Instead, it lets the film speak for itself, and FARC does sometimes come across as little better than kids playing soldiers: one, particularly memorable part of the training, consists of recruits running around, waving wooden guns about and shouting “BANG!” at imaginary opponents. They also have a startlingly bad ‘national anthem’, which sounds more like the fight song from a third-rate community college.

The film’s main weakness is the lack of any real narrative thrust. Now, obviously, in a documentary, this kind of thing is not always possible, but usually there’s a goal or some sense of purpose. Here, events simply unfold, and the vast majority of them are simply not very exciting; the height of drama is an argument about shampoo with another female recruit. There’s not really much of a character arc for Isabel, and despite some impressive cinematography, I can’t really say I learned much about Colombia, FARC or even the heroine. More insight, less documentary, would have been preferred.

Dir: Frank Piasecki Poulsen