Sunday, July 6, 2014

NXNE 2014- Film Review - La Voz de los silenciados

Bleak, cruel, Heartbreaking, Hopeless and terrifying are the initial words that come to mind after viewing Maximon Monihan's La Voz De os Silenciados (Voice of the Voiceless).  The film is a silent feature that tells the story of Olga a 17 year old deaf girl from Guatemala who raises the funds to come to New York to attend a religious based school for the deaf that is instead a slavery ring forcing young people onto the subway each day to beg for money for the crew's ringleaders. If the victims doe not bring back at least a hundred dollars each day they are tasered and beaten.

The film is from Olga's point of view therefore all sounds are muffled similar to what you would hear if you place your hands over your ears or are swimming underwater.

Monihan decided to make the film after he read a story about the bust of a slave peddling crime syndicate. The viewer sees the events unfold as Olga does. Therefore the audience leads the facts about the school, consequences of a short hall, the terrible living conditions and the dangerous whims of the bosses as she does.

Monihan also new that he wanted a modern silent productions without the glib piano passages or words on screen. Instead the desperate plight of the protagonist would be enough to keep the audience attention on screen.  The only bend to the past was a move to 19 frames per second famously used in the Charlie Chaplin films.

The most gut wrenching part of the production is that the lead character and crew are in two prisons. The spend their days out on their own in the public but cannot communicate their plight due to lack of speech.  At home at night they are locked into a room with a series of bunk beds greater each morning with a knapsack thrown at them signaling that its time to get up and go to work. The other part is this is that the public on the subway cannot possibly know the individual circumstance. It's the regular routine of a deaf person entering a car passing out a card then coming back to pick it up hopefully for some small bills that we have all seen multiple times before.

The cast featured no professional actors accept for the lead boss lady who did some bit role work in the past. The cast acted as themselves with Monihan jumping in to show what he wanted if there were the odd misstep.

Los Vos de los Silenciados is a gripping, erie production that hits close to home for anyone that has ridden the subway on even an occasional basis. The film is well presented and one that I can recommend.  It makes the audience think that the next time that a deaf person hands you one of those cards closer inspection is warranted to be sure that they are doing it of their own freewill.

*** out of 4.

Los Vos de los Silenciados | Maximon Monihan | U.S.A. | 2013 | 80 Minutes.

Tags: Deaf, Kidnapping, Threats, Torture, Rape, Slavery, Criminal Activity, New York, Subway, Begging.

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