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La Sierra


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Product Details

  • Actors: Edison Flores, Cielo Muñoz, Jesús Martínez (III)
  • Directors: Margarita Martinez, Scott Dalton (II)
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: FIRST RUN FEATURES
  • DVD Release Date: February 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KP62LG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,232 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "La Sierra" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Film notes
  • Original trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

{Award of Excellence -- Society for Visual Anthropology 2006 }
{Grand Jury Award, Best Documentary -- Miami Film Festival 2005}
{Special Mention, Best Documentary -- Slamdance Film Festival 2005 }
{Best Documentary-- IFP Market 2004 }

La Sierra is a barrio in Medellin, Colombia-- the cocaine capital of the world. Here, lives are defined by drugs, guns and violence. A state of perpetual urban warfare exists, with paramilitary gangs, leftist guerrillas and the US-sponsored Colombian military battling continually for power and control. The award-winning documentary LA SIERRA explores life in the barrio over the course of one year through the prism of three young lives.

Edison, aka "The Doll," is a paramilitary commander in La Sierra. At the age of 22, he is the de facto mayor of the neighborhood and father to six children by six different women. Though openly dedicated to and excited by his life of violence, Edison is an intelligent and charismatic young man. As we follow him through the conflict, its victories and setbacks, he shares his dreams for himself and his children and explains his attachment to what he calls "my war."

Cielo, age 17, was displaced from the countryside as a young child when her brother and father were murdered by guerillas. A mother at the age of 15, she was widowed when the father of her son (a gang member) was killed. Now Cielo is devoted to a new boyfriend, a paramilitary, who she visits in jail every Sunday.

Jesus, 19, is a mid-level paramilitary member. Badly wounded when a homemade grenade blew up in his hands and face, Jesus presents himself as ready for death at any moment, regularly indulging in marijuana and cocaine.

LA SIERRA is an intimate, unflinching portrait of three lives defined by violence and a community wracked by conflict. Over the course of a year these lives, and the life of the barrio itself, undergo profound changes, experiencing victory, defeat, hope, despair, love and death. Entering a world where few journalists dare to venture, filmmakers Scott Dalton and Margarita Martinez reveal not only startling moments of violence and its aftermath, but also those of tenderness and faith that give the community hope for survival.

Review

An intimate, powerfully disturbing look at the violent barrios of Medellin, Colombia, where baby-faced youths tote guns, commit murder and snort cocaine with a live-fast-die-young abandon.
Sobering stuff you'll likely never forget. --LA Weekly

An unforgettable, singular entry into one of the world's oldest civil wars. --Miami Herald

A stark, relentlessly deglamourized vision of thug life, LA SIERRA is essential viewing! --Village Voice

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
The film manages to capture the individuals in a very authentic way, both in their daily lives and in their philosophies.
Walt
I looked for little ways in which this documentary might be improved, but I'd have to watch it again to find much that distracts from the overall impact.
Sally
In this case, they were siding with the Colombian para-miltaries in an attempt to protect their neighborhood from the ELN guerillas.
Chris Luallen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chris Luallen on July 16, 2007
Format: DVD
My wife is originally from Ecuador and has good friends in Colombia. So far I have visited the country three times and have developed considerable affection and admiration for its people, the majority of whom of are honest, good hearted, law abiding citizens.

Like all of Latin America there is still considerable poverty in Colombia and a criminal element who attempt to make money by any means necessary. But what makes Colombia uniquely dangerous is its huge involvement in narco-trafficking, especially cocaine, and the civil war that is still being conducted between the government and the narco guerrilla groups.

This film focuses on three young people. Edison, who serves as a leader for the Bloque Metro, Jesus, a spaced out cokehead who sees no future for himself, and Cielo, a girl of only 17 who is already a mother, a widow and with a new boyfriend in jail. It struck me how sweet and good natured these kids seemed to be despite all the violence that they were surrounded by and participating in. Their personalities seemed almost the opposite of the proudly brutal, vulgar, and arrogant thugs usually associated with gang life in the United States.

One aspect that was different about these Colombian kids is that they didn't seem to view themselves so much as self-centered criminals but rather as war combatants. In this case, they were siding with the Colombian para-miltaries in an attempt to protect their neighborhood from the ELN guerillas.

To put these events in context, violent conflict between liberals and conservatives has divided Colombia throughout it's history. In the 1960's several Communist guerilla movements formed. The largest of the guerilla groups is FARC, though ELN is also a significant player.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sally on July 3, 2007
Format: DVD
Unlike many documentaries, La Sierra moves. Full of action and intensity.

As I edit my first documentary, I decided to view a wide range of documentaries to see what makes them entertaining as well as informative. So far, La Sierra ranks high for being both.

It opens with the wails of young woman, barely a woman, as she discovers her young husband lying in the grass, shot dead. Her friends drag her away, anguished, weeping, calling out to him, "mi amor."

La Sierra takes place in Medellin, Columbia, in what we are told is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of the city. To make this documentary, the filmmakers, journalists Scott Dalton and Margarita Martinez, negotiated with a feared gang for permission to film them. The documentary follows the gang through their world of drugs, turf wars and private, even tender, moments.

Edison, the gang leader, is the old man at 22. He, his gang members and their girls live to the hilt, enjoying the danger and drugs, laughing, loving, and making babies.

When the documentary begins, they are serving as informal paramilitary for the Colombian government during attacks on Medellin by the ELN, one of Colombia's two long standing revolutionary forces.

These gang warriors are so very young, so very poor, with no future, and little reason to think much about the consequences of their actions. And yet, individually, they each express a premature angst. A philosophical acceptance of their fate - that their lives will be short, and their dreams unfulfilled. All they have is Now, their friends, and their poignant desire that the lives of the babies they leave behind will be better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mikeltxu on July 11, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This great and atmospheric work shows real life issues (war, drugs, family, "no future") in the mountains around Medellin.
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A 22-year-old with seven kids by seven moms controls Bloque Metro, a violent gang set up to protect its people from another violent gang, and the spiral of killing continues. The viewer goes from meeting Edison, hearing him talk about his life, meeting his women, his dad who at last rejected violence to pursue Christ, following Edison's daily activities, including battles with cops and others, including him wishing he could get an engineering degree to come back to the 'hood to build a hospital --- and then we see him dead on the ground in the same clothing we saw him wearing in the previous scene where he was hanging out in a dance hall -- turns out the video captured the last hour of his life on earth. And we go to Edison's funeral and see his grave in the cemetery. A powerful documentary. A tragic life that's but one of the millions of hopeless young men that search for meaning and hope in a society that offers little. His dad found it, but Edison didn't. Pray for Colombia. Pray for this world.
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