By Nelie Diverlus
PROMESA: a US-enacted bill created to maintain fiscal control over Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring. Upon its launch, the people of this nation have been finding themselves enraged by the government’s inaction in assisting communities, as well as combatting the detrimental effects of climate change affecting the country. Through Drills of Liberation, we begin to unpack what it means to use our voice to claim autonomy, and how community adequately supports in doing so
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This story takes us through the streets of Rio. The revolutionary spirit of the story is felt almost immediately, guided by voice-over, astounding visuals, and a moving soundtrack. The culture of the story is also immensely felt; not only through language, but also supported by the stunning shots of landscape and setting. The energy of the film is magnetic – the viewer can find themselves drawn to the sounds and visuals of revolution, as the people have taken to the streets to demand change and action.
As stated, director Juan C. Dávila exquisitely guides us through narration and movement. Community is a great theme within this story, as the people of Puerto Rico are finding resistance through collective voices and strength. Dávila’s distinct choice to show his face during interviews also adds another layer of connection that is intensified; in this sense, there are little to no barriers between the subjects and the interviewer, and this supports the “unification in resistance” narrative that is projected constantly throughout this film.
The various landscape shots brilliantly provide adequate insight into their living situations. The abandoned maintenance of the city’s homes and streets reinforce the message of the film, regarding the government’s negligence of the nation’s inhabitants. Seeing homes flooded with individuals and families with nowhere to turn to has potential to fill the viewers with rage – knowing that the administration would rather see its people grasp for survival than to refute a controlling bill. One notable element is the lighting; there were a few moments during the interviews where there were shadows cast on the subjects, causing us to lose their face within the surroundings. This could have been prevented by ensuring a fill light is used to eliminate the excessive shadows.
Additionally, the music composition adequately assists in displaying the culture of Puerto Rico. While the music serves the moving tone of the story as a whole, the soundtrack also gives us a good reminder of the setting – the soft guitar launches us into the Caribbean atmosphere of the story. The music also effectively remains subtle, which is rather crucial to assist in projecting the story’s profound message. Because it does not overpower the visuals and statements being said, the film’s bed track purely acts as support – which is, strangely, a concept that has been lost within different films.
“While the music serves the moving tone of the story as a whole, the soundtrack also gives us a good reminder of the setting – the soft guitar launches us into the Caribbean atmosphere of the story.”
Ultimately, this film terrifically calls our attention to a pressing matter that has been debilitating the people of Puerto Rico. Statements from the film’s subjects also teach us the value of community; there truly is strength found in numbers, and this film rings this message loud and clear.
Editor’s note: Drills of Liberation screened at CTFF ’21, as part of the Political Environment programme.