The Back of the World

The Back of the World

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La Espalda del Mundo. It’s an evocative title that reinforces the second-class citizenship of director Javier Corcuera’s documentary subjects. The film’s first segment is the film’s most grueling, if only because it tells the story of disenfranchised Peruvian children. In a village outside Lima, 11-year-old Guinder Rodriquez and his friends work at quarrying stones in order to help support their families. Amid the stealing (for food and cigarettes) and glue-induced hallucinations, Guinder dreams of bigger things. Somewhere on Peru’s backside, a father hopes to give a son a life no one was willing to give to him when he was a child. Today in Turkey, many Kurdish girls bear the name of Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish woman elected to a position of Parliament in Diyarbarkir. As she took her oath of office, Leyla wore a headband with the colors of the Kurdish flag and closed her speech with a statement championing unity between her people (the largest group of stateless people in the world) and the rest of society. This tragic piece highlights the unfortunate ramification of uttering words of peace. Somewhere in an Ankara prison, Leyla would rather die than see her people’s continued oppression. Post-Dubya, life on death row in Texas is just as tough. This startling segment is most notable for Corcuera’s even-handedness and his choice to focus on the friends and families of those individuals currently sentenced to die. Corcuera allows the pervasive poverty of the film’s Texans and the downtrodden minority faces to subtly indict the heartlessness and racism of America’s judicial system. Somewhere in Texas, a new set of victims is created with a flip of a switch. Just as Guinder’s father wants a better life for his son, the father of a death row inmate would rather die than see his own son executed. Such beautiful, heartfelt moments are what bring together these tales of oppression. Corcuera is too smart to posit a solution. All he shows is the face of a young child who, despite having suffered a lifetime of arduousness, wishes he could be a child forever.

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DVD
Runtime
89 min
Rating
NR
Year
2002
Director
Javier Corcuera
Screenwriter
Fernando León de Aranoa, Elias Querejeta
Cast
Guinder Rodriquez, Mehdi Zana, Thomas Meller-El