Review: By the Name of Tania
by Aurore Engelen
- BERLIN 2019: Mary Jimenez and Bénédicte Liénard present a hybrid documentary with a bold narrative bias
"It's not my body anymore. It's not me anymore." It is with these words, spoken via a voice-over, that By the Name of Tania [+see also:
film profile] begins – the third film by Bénédicte Liénard and Mary Jimenez, presented in world premiere at the Berlinale in the Generation 14plus section. These words belong to Tania, a young Peruvian woman in search of a better future, who wants to escape the restricted destiny her small village promises her, but finds herself forced into prostitution in the gold mining areas of Peru, before being held captive and abused.
It's her tragic journey that we follow, from the jungle to the mining region, from her house, where her grandmother died, to the cage of prostitution at the very heart of her sexual exploitation. The story of her journey is told in the first person, but relates to a destiny shared by so many more than just Tania, sacrificed on the altar of barbarism and greed in this particular area of Peru, where men act likes wolves among men as much as they do in nature.
By the Name of Tania is a hybrid film that mixes documentary and reality fiction. Based on numerous true testimonies collected by the directors while filming one of their previous films, Sobre las brasas in Peru, the film depicts the hell suffered by a generation of sacrificed young people. They give a voice and a face to Tania, a hybrid character and an apparition in this composite and symbolic film who represents the many facets of these tragic destinies. While the voice-over recounts personal stories, actions are performed by amateur actors and actresses.
Tania's voice is also a driving force in this story, embodying those whose names and faces we have forgotten, acting as a link between the introspective scenes, the shots of Tania's face and the group scenes that place Tania’s fate within a larger context and community setting, and the rare but striking scenes that see Tania make a statement at a police station about her ordeal, one that has been experienced by so many others.
As Tania speaks, the camera guides us through the landscapes of the Amazon, floating shantytowns and jungle land contrast with the darkness of the story, poverty and the girl's poignant testimony.
In Sobre las brasas, the filmmakers scrutinised the daily life of a family struggling to survive while working in a coal mine, while Rising Voices [+see also:
film profile], a fiction feature, aimed to humanise migrants. In their latest film, which leans on the lost souls of the Gold Rush in Peru, they once again offer their viewers a sort of survivalist cinema that is dedicated to survivors and highlights how survival instinct and a desire to live freely help us to resist barbarism. With the ultimate purpose of restoring the dignity of the people and persons dispossessed of their identity by the violence of men.
By the Name of Tania was produced by Hanne Phlypo for Clin d'Oeil Films (Belgium), in co-production with Dérives (Belgium) and BALDR (the Netherlands). The film is being sold internationally by Pluto Film.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.