Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘Breaking the Silence’

Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘Breaking the Silence’

Shining a spotlight on the Embera Chami Indigenous community in Colombia, Breaking the Silence tells the story of Luz. She discovers that she was a victim of the culturally-accepted practice of female genital mutilation at birth. This makes her leaves her home for Bogota. Alone and struggling in the big city, Luz meets Claudia, a fellow Embera Chami and activist for women. Their relationship challenges Claudia to return to Luz’s home. There, she attempt to educate the women of the community and call for change moving forward.

Breaking the Silence is an emotionally raw piece of film. It is a chilling reminder of some of the more draconian practices that still exist in our world. Through misinformation and shame, the Embera Chami people consistently reinforce toxic masculine dominance over the women of their community. Believing that there is something wrong with them, the Embera Chami women experience fear and disgust regarding their bodies. Many of them have never even seen themselves naked as a result. For these women, there is a spiritual connection between their bodies and the land. And they continuously pray for healing for both entities.

Breaking the Silence is a testament to the dangers that stem from clinging to our mythology without challenge. Some of the old stories hold their value today more than others. Claudia begins to teach the women of the lies that they have been taught about themselves. This makes one sense the justice and hope that the truth brings with it. Similar to their understanding of the earth itself, Claudia celebrates the holistic nature of the female body and its beauty. That truth begins to take hold in the community. The healing and transformation that begins to take place is genuinely uplifting. Old narratives are pushed aside for the sake of truth.

This post was written by
Born at a very early age, Steve is a Toronto-based writer and podcaster who loves to listen to what matters to our culture on screen. When he first saw Indiana Jones steal the cross of Coronado, he knew his world would never be the same and, since then, he’s found more and more excuses to digest what’s in front of him onscreen. Also, having worked as a youth and community minister for almost 20 years, he learned that stories help everyone engage the world around them. He’s a proud hubby, father (x2) and believes that Citizen Kane, Batman Forever (yes, the Kilmer one), and The Social Network belong in the same conversation. You can hear his ramblings on ScreenFish Radio wherever podcasts are gettable or at his website, ScreenFish.net.
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