By Maria Gkika,
Usually, when hearing the term “crime fiction”, a specific type of novel and author comes to mind. However, literature cannot be contained, and that is a big part of its importance. Crime fiction can be a social commentary and can also be a political act. A term not widely known, Latin Noir (2021) describes crime fiction often set in the most populated cities in Latin America. It exposes the suffering of society and the machinations of a corrupted state heavily involved in crime. As stated in the film, in order to describe a society. one has to talk about the crimes that happen in it.
The awarded documentary Latin Noir by Andreas Apostolidis is a joint French Greek-Mexican production between Arte France, TV UNAM, TVO, ERT, and Histoire France. It takes us to Latin America to introduce a brand-new genre of crime novels, that combines contemporary history, violence, and crime. We get to see how and why this unique genre came to be, and why it is so popular. At the same time, it proposes an original, alternative narrative of the contemporary history of Latin America through its crime fiction. Famous crime novelists Leonardo Padura (Havana), Luis Sepúlveda (Santiago), Paco Ignacio Taibo II (Mexico City), Santiago Roncagliolo (Lima), and Claudia Piñeiro (Buenos Aires) are interviewed, telling their stories, and describing how writing crime novels allowed them to express their violent reality during the ’60s and ’70s and onwards.
The genre expands along with the evolution of crime in modern society, heavily influenced by the current political dysfunction, the economic crisis, and social inequality. However, the warning about the future is clear. Their narrative is seamlessly connected with the observations of the expert Philip Swanson about the writer’s background and work, as well as the historical, political, economic, and social environment.
In addition to its stunning cinematography, the film has included extensive material from documents, from not only key historical moments, but also from everyday life, thus illustrating the gulf between the high class and the poor, homeless farmers who moved to Buenos Aires, Havana, and Lima in the late ’60s. Also, the in-between reading of book passages was a smart choice to immerse the audience quickly and easily in the essence of the crime stories. Based on research, with careful direction and editing along with a well-written script, the film is short, to the point, and flows seamlessly.
To sum up, Latin Noir is essential viewing for crime fiction lovers. It artfully brings us closer to the writers and their reasoning behind the creation of this type of literature. The viewers come to reflect on some uncomfortable questions and come to understand the importance of Latin Noir as a political act. Illuminating the process of literary writing as a mirror and antidote to reality, the film reminds us that literature has the power to resist not only authoritarian regimes but also to bravely face the darkest and most violent parts of our world through imagination.
- Latin Noir (Α’ τηλεοπτική προβολή), program.ert.gr, Available here
- Latin Noir, filmy.gr, Available here
- Latin Noir: Διάσημοι συγγραφείς της Λατινικής Αμερικής στο νέο ντοκιμαντέρ του Ανδρέα Αποστολίδη, nexarchia.gr, Available here
- «Latin Noir» απόψε στην Αμαλιάδα (στις 10 μμ), patrisnews.com, Available here