The Milk of Sorrow

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The Milk of Sorrow
The Milk Of Sorrow.jpg
Directed by Claudia Llosa
Produced by Antonio Chavarrías
Claudia Llosa
José María Morales
Written by Claudia Llosa
Starring Magaly Solier
Susy Sánchez
Efrain Solís
Music by Selma Mutal
Cinematography Natasha Braier
Edited by Frank Gutiérrez
Release date
  • February 12, 2009 (2009-02-12) (Berlinale)
  • February 13, 2009 (2009-02-13) (Spain)
  • March 12, 2009 (2009-03-12) (Peru)
Running time
95 minutes
Country Peru
Spain
Language Spanish
Quechua

The Milk of Sorrow (Spanish: La Teta Asustada, The frightened teat) is a 2009 film by Peruvian director Claudia Llosa and co-produced by Peru and Spain. The film stars Magaly Solier and addresses the fears of abused women during Peru's recent history. It won the 2009 Golden Bear award and FIPRESCI prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, as well as the award for best film in the 24 Festival Internacional de Cine de Guadalajara in Mexico. It was nominated for the 82nd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, becoming the first Peruvian film to be nominated for the award.

Plot[edit]

The film begins with a song sang by an elderly woman who lies dying in her bed. She describes her own rape and the death of her husband. At the end of the song, she slowly passes away while lying next to her daughter, Fausta (Magaly Solier). It is assumed that Fausta has grown up on stories of the horrors that occurred during the conflict between Sendero Luminoso, a leftwing guerrilla group, and the Peruvian government. This has left Fausta with a crippling fear of men and rape. To dissuade any attempts of rape, she has placed a potato in her vagina. Throughout the film, this potato begins to impact her health yet she continues to refuse to allow the doctors to remove it. In the aftermath of her mother's death Fausta and her family do not have enough money to take her mother's body back to their village for burial. Fausta takes work in the home of a wealthy pianist, Aída (Susi Sánchez) who is struggling to complete a new piece in time for an upcoming recital. When the pianist discovers that Fausta has a knack for writing her own songs, Aída encourages her to complete a song for her by offering a string of pearls in exchange. Fausta desperately needs this money in order to pay for her mother's funeral and agrees. The night of the recital, Aída performs Fausta's song to a roaring applause. On the way back to her home after the recital, Fausta comments about the positive reception that her song received. Aída responds by kicking Fausta out into the dark streets of Lima by herself.

The night after her cousin's wedding, Fausta's uncle comes into her room and frightens her while she sleeps. He begs her to live her life and not waste her days in a state of never-ending fear like her mother did. At the end of the film, Fausta decides to go through with the operation to get the potato removed and buries her mother near the ocean. It is implied that Fausta will move on with her life, leaving her fears behind her.

Background[edit]

Between 1980 and 1992 Peru experienced a period of extreme violence, particularly in the Andean region, because of the uprising of the Maoist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the actions of the paramilitary and state armed forces. By 1990 the conflict had reached Lima, the capital city of Peru. Claudia Llosa refers in her film to the folk belief that the trauma experienced by women who were raped by members of security force was passed on to their children through their breast milk. Thus, this period of violence continues to affect not only those who experienced it but also the next generation.

Llosa's work is a psychological as well as sociological approach to the 12 years of conflict, and is critical of the mass rapes used by the army as a strategy of war. The film is based on the book Entre Prójimos, by Kimberly Theidon.[1][2] In her book, Theidon documents a number of testimonials by women who were raped by as many as thirty men at a time, atrocities that often resulted in pregnancies. Theidon states that "when survivors of sexual violence speak about their experiences, they place a responsibility on their listeners to respond to what they have heard."[3] Llosa's film, too, is an attempt to respond to such testimonies.

Filming[edit]

Most of the filming locations are in Manchay, an impoverished suburban area in Pachacamac, southeast of Lima, which indigenous people took over during the 1980s to escape from terrorism, and near a high-class area of Lima called Cieneguilla.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews, having an 80% certified "fresh" in Rotten Tomatoes and a critical consensus of:"Claudia Llosa's deliberate pace and abstract storytelling may frustrate some viewers, but there's no denying the visual pleasures soaking in The Milk of Sorrow"; Peter Brunette, from The Hollywood Reporter, said "The film is gorgeously shot and contains a plethora of haunting images". Boyd van Hoeij from Variety said that "Peruvian realities and Llosa's light magical realism mesh to create a vivid picture of a society and its problems."

While some Peruvian critics gave the movie negative reviews, the plot and performance were praised by American and European critics.

Awards[edit]

Film awards[edit]

Year Category Person Nominated Best Movie Nominated (Results)
2009 Berlin Golden Bear Best Movie Claudia Llosa Winner
2009 Berlin International Film Festival FIPRESCI Claudia Llosa Winner
2009 Guadalajara International Film Festival Best Movie Claudia Llosa Winner
2009 Guadalajara International Film Festival Best Actress Magaly Solier Winner
2009 Montreal World Film Festival Best Actress Magaly Solier Winner
2009 Association Québécoises des Critiques de Cinéma Best Movie Claudia Llosa Winner
2009 Lima Film Festival Best Peruvian Movie Claudia Llosa Winner
2009 Lima Film Festival CONACINE Award Claudia Llosa Winner
2009 Lima Film Festival Best Actress Magaly Solier Winner
2009 Havana Film Festival Best Movie Claudia Llosa Winner
2009 Bogota Film Festival Best Movie Claudia Llosa Winner
2009 Peruvian Association of Cinematographic Press Best Peruvian Movie Claudia Llosa Winner
2010 Goya Awards Best Spanish Language Foreign Film Claudia Llosa Nominated
82nd Academy Awards Best foreign Language Film Claudia Llosa Nominated
2010 Ariel Award Best Ibero-American Film Claudia Llosa Nominated

Submissions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Interview with Kimberly Theidon by Paola Ugaz from La Terra http://www.terra.com.pe/noticias/articulo/html/act1659267.htm
  2. ^ http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~anthro/theidon/index.htm
  3. ^ Theidon, Kimberly Susan. Entre prójimos el conflicto armado interno y la política de la reconciliación en el Perú. Lima, Peru: IEP Ediciones, 2004. Pg 130

External links[edit]