Dir. Heddy Honigmann / Perú / 1993 / 80’
At the heist of Peru’s economic and political crisis in the early 90s, Heddy Honigmann films the taxi drivers of the capital city, Lima. Many of them are not professional drivers but men with cars that work as such to make ends meet. The film subjects share intimate reflections and perceptions with the filmmaker in impromptu conversations that give more information about the situation of the country and the suffering of its inhabitants than a conventional documentary would have done. Honigmann’s portrayal brings the spectator close to the ordinary Peruvian people —from their material survival strategies to their existential stances— revealing the deeper aspects of this particularly complicated historical context through a seemingly simple mise-en-scène.
Where: St Peter’s Episcopal Church Hall (14 Lutton Place, Edinburgh EH8 9PE)
When: Saturday 27th May 2023, doors open at 19:30, screening starts at 20:00
METAL AND MELANCHOLY is an unusual road-movie in documentary form. A journey through the art of survival with the taxi-drivers of Lima, Peru: teachers, economists, actors, agents of the secret police, housewives – all of them dreamers, all of them fighters, all of them taxi-drivers – earning a bit (extra) on their way to a possibly better future.
You live in Lima, a Latin-American metropolis with 7 million inhabitants, in Peru, where over the 1980s and early 1990s the economic situation has grown increasingly hopeless. You still manage to have a job, with the salary of which you can pay for gas and electricity, but not the rent; or you have even lost your job. The only thing that hasn’t been stolen, is your old car, that you bought when you could still afford it. So, for a dollar you buy a sign saying “taxi”, stick it on your windscreen, and throw yourself into the Lima traffic.
The competition is murderous, but the earnings, however small, are still quite worthwhile in a country where the members of the middle-classes – teachers, army officers, doctors, civil servants – earn salaries of a few hundred dollars a month.
As a taxi-driving economist explains in the film: in Peru there is hardly any middle-class left. Filmmaker Heddy Honigmann was born in Lima and spent her first 23 years in the city. In 1993, almost 20 years after her departure, she went back to make a portrait of her former home-town people, who were not only living in an economic and political crisis, but had also lived through years of terror by the Shining Path group.
The portraits of the individual drivers grow into a panorama of human fighting spirit, the many ingenious ways of survival we humans employ, of passion, pain, hope, and the zest for life.
Grand Prix, Cinéma du Réèl, Paris, 1994; L.J. Jordaan Prijs, Amsterdam Arts Foundation, 1994; Golden
Dove and Mercedes-Benz Prize, Leipzig, 1994; Best Ethnographical documentary, Festival dei Populi, Florence, 1994; Special Jury Prize, Golden Gate Awards, San Francisco, 1995; Mayor’s Prize, Yamagata, 1995.