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Cuchillo de Palo 108

Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Estudi Playtime
Directed by Renate Costa Perdomo
DVD, color, 91 min., Spanish with English subtitles
Gay and Lesbian Studies, Human Rights, Latin American Studies

Reviewed by Jessica Schomberg, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Recommended with reservations   
Date Entered: 12/4/2012

Cuchillo de Palo 108 is a documentary about the secret life of the director’s uncle, Rodolfo Costa, who died mysteriously when she was a child. The film features interviews with the director’s father and others who knew her uncle.

The content of the film is interesting—Rodolfo Costa’s life was both fascinating and tragic. The scope broadens as the film goes on, including footage of gay rights protests with a notice that they would not have been allowed during Stroessner’s regime. Unfortunately, interspersing interviews with long, silent shots of the director’s father as he does everyday mundane tasks, i.e. yardwork and shaving, did not keep this reviewer engaged. Also, the intent of the film is vague. Is it to be an intimate family portrait or an exploration of human rights issues in Paraguay? The back-and-forth between the two might appeal to some, but I would be more enthusiastic in my recommendation if this title included a more tightly-edited version intended for classroom use.