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The 2010 Academy Award nomination for The Milk of Sorrow notwithstanding, Peruvian cinema hasn't made much of a mark on U.S. movie culture—especially when compared with the growing popularity of films from Argentina and Chile. Yet as I wrote in our coverage of this year's Chicago Latino Film Festival, the resurgence of South American filmmaking over the past decade has not been limited to those two countries. Indeed I've seen enough strong recent work from Bolivia, Colombia, and Uruguay to convince me that any new South American film to play Chicago has a good chance of being worthwhile.
In addition to their artistic merit, many of the recent South American films to play Chicago have been valuable for providing insight into countries rarely reported on in much depth by U.S. news media. One way to learn about other people is to watch the movies they make, Jonathan Rosenbaum once wrote in the Reader, and these films often serve to illustrate how the societies of former dictatorships like Uruguay and Chile have redeveloped after decades of political turmoil. Double Game takes place soon after the fall of Alberto Fujimori's government—appropriately, the plot centers around a series of con games. Red Ink, released around the time that Fujimori fled Peru in the wake of a corruption scandal, follows a young crime reporter working for a tabloid in Lima. In his work he encounters firsthand the horrible conditions in which the city's poor lives, as well as the cynicism of his country's news media. (Coincidentally a tabloid journalist also factors into the plot of Black Butterfly, which played in the series last week.) Crossing a Shadow is the outlier in the series, a historical drama about the development of Peru's national roadways in the early 20th century—a subject that's probably even less familiar to U.S. moviegoers than the current state of Peruvian society.