Finding Oscar 3.0 stars

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Synopsis

The titular Oscar, one of the only survivors of a terrifying massacre during middle years of the nearly four-decade Guatemalan civil war, appears at the opening and the closing of Ryan Suffern’s documentary, and provides the harrowing tale with some heart. But the head, hands, guts and legs belong to women, from the self-starting activist who went out looking for bodies and then went out looking for perpetrators, to the young prosecutor who built a case from the evidence, to the Attorney General who refused to let that case be buried alongside so many other past sins. It’s the kind of documentary that makes you wish someone could dramatize it, because while there are many compelling visual moments — perhaps chief among them, row upon row of recovered skeletons, carefully arranged for examination — and heroic storylines, there are also stretches where Suffern is forced to rely on still photos, landscape shots, TV-grade graphic effects, and shudder quasi-reenactments. Still, the good bits more than justify the less good ones. A genuinely inspiring story of courage in the face of atrocity, impunity, and institutionalized inhumanity.

Matthew Lickona

Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Rated: NR

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