U.S. release poster
|Directed by||Luis Mandoki|
|Produced by||Lawrence Bender
Alejandro Soberón Kuri
|Written by||Luis Mandoki
Óscar Orlando Torres
|Based on||Óscar Torres's childhood|
|Music by||André Abujamra|
|Cinematography||Juan Ruiz Anchía|
|Editing by||Aleshka Ferrero|
|Studio||Santo Domingo Films
Lawrence Bender Productions
|Distributed by||Lionsgate (Mexico only; theatrical)
20th Century Fox (international)
Polychrome Pictures (U.S.A release)
|Running time||152 minutes|
Voces Inocentes (English title: Innocent Voices) is a 2004 Mexican film directed by Luis Mandoki. The plot is set during the Salvadoran Civil War, and is based on writer Óscar Torres's childhood. The film serves as a general commentary on the military use of children. The movie also shows injustice against innocent people who are forced to fight in the war. It follows the story of the narrator, a boy named Chava.
Chava's father left El Salvador when the war started, for the United States. His family lives in a town that is currently heavily fought over between the Salvadoran army and the Guerrillas. His mother makes a living for the family by sewing, and Chava sells the clothes in shops. When he's not in school, Chava helps out by announcing stations for a bus driver.
He is nearing his twelfth birthday, when the military will recruit him. Chava witnesses the army recruiting twelve-year old children from his school. One day his uncle Beto, who has joined the guerrillas, comes to visit Chava's family. Beto wants to take Chava with him so the military can't recruit him, but Chava's mother is against it. Beto gives a radio to Chava and tells him how to listen to the guerrillas' banned radio station, Venceremos. Throughout the scenes in the village where they live, there are firefights between government and rebel forces, as the settlement is on the border of the conflict. Chava knowingly plays a song banned by the Salvadoran Army in front of the soldiers, but the town's priest saves him by playing the same song over the church's loudspeaker, focussing the soldier's attention away from Chava. Chava falls in love with a girl in his class named Cristina Maria. The guerrillas attack the army from the school building and the school is closed. Kella and her family move out of town to her mother's house in a safer area. One of the guerrillas, Raton, tells Chava of the army's next recruitment day, and Chava and his friends warn the entire town to hide their children. Chava decides to visit Cristina Maria but only finds the bombed-out shell of her house. He and his friends decide to join the guerrillas, but they are followed and the guerrilla camp is attacked by the army.
Chava and his friends are taken from the camp, and forcibly marched to an unknown destination, repeating the opening scene. It appears to be an execution ground on a riverbank, where other bodies litter the scene. Ancha, the mentally-handicapped local from Chava's village is seen to have been hanged. The soldiers begin to shoot the boys one by one, and two of them are killed. Chava is next in turn, but at the last moment he is saved by a guerrilla attack. He runs back into the undergrowth right into a raging firefight. After seeing a guerrilla get killed by a government soldier, Chava feels he should fight against them. He picks up the rifle, but realizes the government soldier is another young boy who he knew in school. He cannot bring himself to kill his old friend, another human. He flees, and the camera shows the boy he was aiming at, who realizes that his life was in another child's hands. Chava runs home to find his mother in the burnt out ruins of their house. She decides to send him to the United States to prevent him being caught by the authorities, and he promises to return and rescue his brother before he too turns twelve.
In the epilogue, Chava returns to El Salvador and his family six years after the events of the film. He also discovers that his first love, Cristina Maria, is still alive.
- Carlos Padilla as Chava
- Leonor Varela as Chava's mam
- Xuna Primus as Cristina Maria
- Gustavo Muñoz as Ancha
- Ofelia Medina as Mama Toya
- Daniel Giménez Cacho as Priest
- Paulina Gaitán as Angelita
This film premiered at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival on September 16, 2004, before being released in Mexico on January 28, 2005. It later received a limited release in the United States on October 14, 2005.
This film received favorable reviews from film critics. Based on 48 reviews collected by review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored a 71% "Fresh" approval rating, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus is, "Innocent Voices is a passionately told dramatization of an ugly issue of war -- its impact on children." Metacritic, another review aggregator which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 66, based on 24 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".
On the negative side, Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave this film a score of 2.5/4, saying that "it's a harrowing tale, but one that gets phonied up with unnecessary slo-mos, manipulative soundtrack cues, and unrestrained thespianism."
One of the biggest critiques of the film was the characters not speaking in Salvadoran accents or Caliche. The people of El Salvador, for the most part speak in voseo, which was non-existent in the film.
- Three Ariel Awards in 2005 for Best special effects, make-up and supporting actress
- A Crystal Heart Award as well as the Audience Choice Award for Dramatic Feature at the 2005 Heartland Film Festival.
- Golden Space Needle award at the Seattle International Film Festival (2005)
- Stanley Kramer Award of the Producers Guild of America
- Golden award at Giffoni Film Festival in the Free to Fly category in 2005.
- "Voces inocentes, (Innocent Voices) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Innocent Voices Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (20 October 2005). "Innocent Voices Movie Review & Summary (2005) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- Puig, Claudia (13 October 2005). "USATODAY.com - Also in theaters". USA TODAY. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- Soares, Andre (20 March 2005). "Brief Movie Review: INNOCENT VOICES". Alt Film Guide. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Films". 2005. Retrieved 2006-02-08.
- "Heartland Film Festival Concludes Another Record Breaking Year". 2005. Retrieved 2006-02-08.
- Voces inocentes at the Internet Movie Database
- Innocent Voices at Rotten Tomatoes
- Innocent Voices at Metacritic