Numerous books and articles about the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and its role in bringing down the military regime of Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza DeBayle have been published since the 1970s. Not surprisingly, that important historical subject — the Sandinistas’ popular democracy movement and subsequent run-ins with U.S.-backed Contras during the 1980s — has also become fodder for several big-budget Hollywood productions in recent years, including the tellingly titled Kill the Messenger (2014) and American Made (2017). These latter action-driven star vehicles, which explore the CIA’s culpability in training mercenary guerillas, intentionally stunting Nicaragua’s economy, and making it possible for the Contras to profit from illegal drug trafficking, ultimately obscure the role that the actual freedom fighters played in wresting their country away from a brutal dictator whose family had controlled its fortunes for fifty years. Thankfully, there are films like ¡Las Sandinistas! to offset such culturally biased representations. Directed by Jenny Murray, this documentary not only remedies the myopia that characterizes most U.S. cultural productions, but also brings to light the many contributions that women made to that armed revolutionary struggle. A profoundly feminist film, ¡Las Sandinistas! deftly blends archival video footage and contemporary interviews with key players in the movement, including former medical student-turned-comandante Dora María Téllez and celebrated poet Daisy Zamora, who — gun in hand, bandana on face — were essentially waging a war on two fronts. As Murray reveals over the course of her breathtaking account of the FSLN, these and other less-famous icons not only sought to oust Somoza from power but also fought to gain a foothold in sectors of society that had been off-limits to women. Indeed, the Sandinista movement itself, under Daniel Ortega’s leadership, was rife with sexual harassment and other forms of institutional bias against the “second sex.” Upon becoming radicalized by the revolutionary fervor sweeping through their country and brandishing masks that would only partially hide their identities, these women — finally getting their due in a documentary that simply demands to be seen — are inspirations to anyone who is willing to fight for social and political change today.
Written by David Scott Diffrient
Nicaragua / USA
In Spanish with English subtitles
Saturday, April 6
The short film WESTERN COLLECTIONS will open this screening.
Director Aaron Burns, cinematographer Aaron Koehler,
colorist Matt Baxter, and film subject Jude Gassaway of
Western Collections will all be in attendance for a