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Review: 'We Women Warriors' on the front lines of the cocaine wars

The moving documentary captures the heroism of native women in Colombia.

August 24, 2012

Journalist and first-time filmmaker Nicole Karsin spent more than three clearly committed years, from 2006 to 2009, in remote and perilous Colombian villages shooting the documentary "We Women Warriors." The result is an impressive effort that tells the gripping, complex story of a country and a people under siege.

Karsin follows three indigenous women — Doris, Ludis and Flor — whose various tribes are caught in the crossfire between Colombia's guerrillas, paramilitary groups and armed forces. Each of these female activists employs peaceful means, including self-empowerment and collective actions, to combat their land's encroachment and defend their fellow tribe members against the rampant, random brutality fueled largely by the country's pervasive drug trade.

This violence, which too often ends in the deaths of innocent husbands and fathers, leaves inordinate numbers of impoverished young widows to carry on and, in many cases, lead.

Although these natives' stories are harrowing, Doris, Ludis (who, unjustly accused of insurgency, spent a year in prison) and Flor, along with the many other brave and hard-working women seen here, remain optimistic and progressive, raising children, weaving goods and, at times, boldly participating in the national discussion.

It's all captured by Karsin in an involving style that mixes cinéma vérité with intimate interviews, archival TV news footage and evocative shots of Columbia's rugged beauty.

Gary Goldstein

"We Women Warriors." No MPAA rating; in Spanish with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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