Unwanted Witness – Review

Posted January 19, 2009 in
Unwanted Witness

Director: Juan Jose Lozano

Hollman Morris is a tragic figure as we can see in this well-crafted and informative piece. The man constantly endures death threats as a journalist in the embattled Latin American country of Colombia. The tension and strain on his personal life and family are starkly portrayed as he goes into the field battling silence from the government and threats from the guerilla groups of FARC and ELN. Even surrounded by awards for international journalism in his office, and during a prestigious Latin American award ceremony given for fearless journalism, his haggard expression is that of a off-road-weary man, weathered by conscience and duty. His TV program, Contravia, has been pushed to a midnight time slot, in favor of more entertaining programs reporting on celebrities. He says it is a subtle form of censorship. The film also observes the journalist's journalist and his constant displeasure in the field at the unreported losses coca farmers suffer at the hands of the government of Colombia’s troops. The film is about the War on Drugs, without mentioning much regarding it at all. We can inherently understand this is why Morris suffers and will continue to suffer (perhaps even needing to go into protective exile, as he has before in Spain). Throughout the film he visibly tires under pressure resulting from his disruption of all the groups intent on either cleaning up the coca scourge with no regard to human decency or continuing onward with decades-long guerrilla tactics and trafficking. Morris must endure the pain of leaving his family in dangerous situations as well. And his apparent obsession with fact finding has put his children into the daily routine of being chaperoned by uzi toting security squads. His wife slowly unravels throughout the duration of the work due to her life of fear and her husband’s workaholic sprees. Ultimately, the audience is left wondering if Morris will take his family into exile once again after a particularly bad death threat is received, or if he will get caught in the wrong place at the worst time and be just another dead Colombian journalist with prizes on his wall. 4 out of 5 *

Next Screening 5:30 PM Wed, Jan 21@ Treasure Mountain Inn - Gallery Theater

Plays with... Theo by Georgi Banks-Davies 2008
- Jon Paxton