Guatemalan filmmaker Julio Hernández Cordón has found an original path into exploring the contemporary aftereffects of civil unrest.
His proposition is that the Guatemalan Civil War that lasted from 1960-1996 has created a kind of sickness in society, and thus infects every interaction seen on screen. A complicated character in a complicated film, Juan (Agustin Ortíz Pérez) is unpredictable and choleric, prone to suicide attempts and violent outbursts – directed at the man responsible for turning his father over to the military, and who still lives just down the street.
About the same age as Juan, Ignacio (along with his pregnant wife, Alejandra) is making a documentary about indigenous survivors of the Civil War who are looking for their lost family members. Ignacio considers Juan and his mother Delfina as perfect subjects to follow as they search for the remains of Juan’s missing father, whose picture Juan’s never even seen. Juan, however, is far from convinced.
In his fourth film, Cordón continues to grow as a director, and structures his film on the intersection between these two somewhat paralleled individuals, one who subsists in anguished purgatory, the other who seeks to understand it – but is bound to fail. An unsettling and at times disturbing work that bears scars from its making, Polvo
is about the unremitting desire for vengeance and the inability to escape the past – especially when you’re confronted with it every day.Mark Peranson