With 'Song without a name', the Lima filmmaker pays tribute to her father, who wrote about this black chapter of her country

Melina León relives the history of baby theft in Peru

The story of the film is based on Georgina, a Quechua indigenous woman who is robbed of her baby. Fofo: Courtesy

Courtesy / Courtesy

Melina León grew up in Lima with a journalist father who lived in the maelstrom of writing one note after another. However, there was an investigation that he did as a reporter and that marked and persecuted him for many years of his life: the theft of babies by a mafia that was colluded with corrupt judges.

"I was inspired by the fact that my father has been involved in that story," said Leon, who relives this song in his debut opera "Song Without a Name", a feature film that he will present at the AFI Fest on Saturday and Monday in the section from New Amateurs. The festival will take place today through Thursday, November 21 at the TLC Chinese theaters in Hollywood.

Melina's father, Ismael León, continued writing about this case long after it happened – this was in the early eighties -, to the extent that one of the stolen girls, already as an adult, called him from abroad to tell him that she was one of those babies that were torn from the arms of her biological mother.

This inspired Melina, 42, to write this script that not only addresses this event but also the political and social situation in Peru in those years, first under the mandate of Alan García and then under that of Alberto Fujimori.

The protagonist of the story is Georgina, a Quechua indigenous woman who, due to the precarious situation in which she lives, decides to go to a clinic where they offer free birth assistance. What she didn't suspect was that she was putting herself in the hands of a mafia who stole babies from women like her to give them up for adoption in other countries. When he tries to denounce and when he is ignored by the authorities, he decides to tell his story to a reporter, who unravels a whole network of child trafficking in which judges were involved.

The film, filmed in black and white in Lima, has taken Melina León to festivals around the world, but above all, she took it to Cannes, which marked the first time that a Peruvian filmmaker had a presence in the prestigious French event.

"I didn't expect it to go badly, but neither was recognition so great," said Leon, whose father did not live to see the work he inspired.

The director, who lives between Peru and New York, where she emigrated 16 years ago, emphasized that her film is inspired, and not based on real events. The difference is that not everything that happens in the story is true, such as the expulsion of the reporter from the country.

“My father did receive threats, but he did not leave Peru,” said Leon, who decided to dedicate himself to cinema – instead of journalism – because “cinema allows you to gather various elements, you have the luxury of time, and I wanted to tell the story of my father […] but from another point of view ”.

In detail

That: AFI Fest

When: from today to November 21; visit official website for the full program

Where: TLC Chinese Theater, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, and TLC Chinese 6 Theaters, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles

How: $ 9 to $ 15 tickets; fest.afi.com reports


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