Given the turbulent nature of South American politics, it’s unsurprising that so much of the continent’s national cinema focuses on social injustice. During the Franco era in Spain and the Pinochet era in Chile, there were many documented cases of child trafficking. Whilst not as well known, there were similar crimes being committed during the populist regime of Alan Garcia in Peru. Based on true events, Melina León’s new film, Song Without a Name, shines a light on this dark period.
Georgina (Pamela Mendoza), a young woman from the Andes who sells potatoes to survive, lives in poverty with her husband Leo (Lucio Rojas), who works himself to the bone. They are excited to be expecting their first child. However, when she visits a free clinic to give birth their lives are changed forever. When Georgina awakes, she finds her baby’s gone and the next day so is any trace of the centre. After the authorities refuse to act it’s up to a journalist (Tommy Párraga) to uncover the truth.
With echoes of the Oscar-winning Roma, Song Without a Name is shot is vibrant monochrome by the skilful hand of Inti Briones. León sets her story within the context of the wider turmoil within Peru during the 1980s. By doing so, she affords the viewer a glimpse into the political machinations which surround a very personal tragedy. However, what makes Song Without a Name such a powerful drama is a whole-hearted central performance from Mendoza.
Song Without a Name is released in UK cinemas on 30 October.