OUTPUT DRIVE – In Spain, Chile, Argentina, scandals, babies removed at birth for adoption by wealthy families or foreign took place in the 70’s and 80’s. We know least, but in Peru also: this is the story of the film, Cancion sin nombre, which comes out on the screens French Monday, June 22.
Inspired by actual events, the story is that of Georgina (Pamela Mendoza), 20 years old, and Leo (Lucio Rojas), 23 years old, originating in the Andes, who live in a hamlet far away from Lima. To the city, Leo unloads sacks of potatoes in a warehouse, Georgina, sells some at market. They are poor, they love each other, Georgina is pregnant with their first child.
Free health care
On the market, she hears in the speakers an advertisement on a local radio station for a clinic offering free health care to pregnant women. At the time of delivery, she went there and gave birth to a daughter. But shortly after, it’s announced that her baby was transferred to the hospital, she must leave the clinic, and when she returned the next day, it, installed in an ordinary building, has disappeared.
The journalist conducting the investigation
Desperate, Georgina went with Leo to the police and the justice palace to file a complaint, but in vain. As a last resort, she sought the help of a journalist from the local daily newspaper, Pedro Campos (Tommy Parraga), who agrees to conduct the investigation…
Presented at the directors ‘ Fortnight at the last Cannes Festival, the film is thus based on a true story, which is reminiscent of other scandals of children abducted under various military dictatorships, Spain under Franco (1939-1975), in Chile under Pinochet (1973-1990) or Argentina under Videla (1976-1983): babies torn from their mothers, held, or opposing or poor, and entrusted in adoption to rich families, in favour of the regime or foreign.
In Peru, this story took place in the early 80’s, and the director of the film, Melina León, of which this is the first feature-length film, pays homage to his father, Ismael León: “My father is one of the journalists who participated in the launch of La Republica, a daily newspaper very popular in Peru. They have launched the journal in 1981 with A this case of trafficking of children, and my father was directly involved in the investigation. It was he who told me this story.”
But the filmmaker says he has, with his co-writer, “kept a safe distance vis-à-vis the historical facts. We have changed the period to situate the action in 1988, and have created characters of fiction. I wanted to be free to imagine the emotions of the characters, and I needed to be able to express my feelings on a period which I could remember”.
It doesn’t avoid a background of political and social history (the couple of young parents living in poverty, the authorities of the day struggling against the attacks of the shining Path, the journalist, has difficulties living his homosexuality), but this is not a film activist, or nerd, as might be feared the opening credits, the use of black-and-white, and the format is almost square (4:3) image.
Everything is in discretion and modesty, to the height of a human, which reinforces the strength of the story and the seriousness of the scandal –and even some suspense in the last part. The filmmaker also avoids the heavy process of information panels in the credits at the end: the film ends soberly with a very nice scene.
Song without a name
And the players, with little experience, carry this delicacy, such as that sequence in which Georgina, poorly her baby, rocking an empty blanket in her, singing a lullaby, “a song without a name” –this is the title of the film: “Sleep, my baby, sleep. (…) My baby, your sleep will be of peace and love”.