Who Shot My Brother?
As German Gutierrez searches for the gunmen who tried to kill his brother, he exposes the root causes of the violence in his native Colombia.
Directed by German Gutierrez
Produced by Carmen Garcia
Editor: Jean-Marie Drot
Music: Jimmy Tanaka
Narration: Luis de Cespedes
Producers: Argus Films Inc. and The National Film Board of Canada
Some phone calls can turn your life upside down. That's what happened to filmmaker German Gutierrez when he received a call from Colombia, informing him there had just been an assassination attempt on his older brother Oscar, a political activist hated by the establishment but adored by the disenfranchised. In this film, German Gutierrez, who has been living in Montreal for the past thirty years, recounts his quest to find the hired gunmen who tried to kill Oscar and expose the roots of violence that have taken hold of his native country.
"Essential viewing for all who wish to understand the conflict in Colombia." Adam Isacson, Dir. of Programs, Center for International Policy
This beautifully filmed political documentary takes a courageous look at what Colombia has become: a lawless, neo-liberal Far West run by a corrupt middle class; an Eldorado where oil is more precious than gold and where Americans are the puppet masters pulling the strings while drug traffickers, guerrillas and paramilitaries engage in all-out combat with each other as the war on drugs rages on.
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2005
DVD ISBN: 0-7722-1211-2
VHS ISBN: 0-7722-1210-4
"Who Shot My Brother? provides an evocative account of Colombia's seemingly endless quest for peace. Using striking imagery and lucid, unfeigned personal narration, Who Shot My Brother? seeks to expose the forces responsible for the indiscriminate massacres, forced displacements and brutal assassinations, kidnappings and torture that plague Colombia. It is an investigation that is both alarming and inspiring: For the viewer cannot help but be moved by the resilience of Oscar Gutiérrez and his fellow Colombians, as they struggle for dignity, justice and a peaceful Colombia. I strongly recommend taking a look at Who Shot My Brother?."
Kevin A. Turner, Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham
"Presents a jolting ground-level view of how the breakdown of law and order affects both one country as a whole and one family in particular. A memorable, deeply disturbing documentary, this is highly recommended. ***1/2"
"Introduces Colombia's current political, social and economic dilemmas and provides an alternate viewpoint of the United States' involvement in Latin America...Recommended for college students, adult viewers, and libraries supporting Latin American studies programs."
Sean Patrick Knowlton, University of Colorado at Boulder, Educational Media Reviews Online
"Afghanistan is often called America's 'forgotten war.' But even that conflict gets more attention than a long, bloody war just to our south, in Colombia. For almost ten years now, Colombia has been the world's third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid (not counting Iraq and Afghanistan), and after forty years of fighting, no end appears to be in sight. One reason Colombia gets less attention is that it is complicated and confusing. Left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups, drug traffickers, an elite-dominated government, and massive foreign investment - particularly in oil - combine for a 'war of all against all' that resists easy labels and simplistic solutions. When a narrative lacks a 'good guy,' it is harder to keep an audience engaged. That is why Who Shot My Brother is so important. The film focuses on one such 'good guy', opposition-party provincial legislator Oscar Gutiérrez, and the efforts of his brother, a resident of Montreal, to find out who carried out a brutal -
but thankfully unsuccessful - attempt to assassinate him.
We never find out who shot Oscar Gutiérrez. But in the telling of his tale, his brother Germán patiently guides the viewer through the complexities of Colombia's conflict. Thanks to much never-before-seen footage, viewers find themselves face-to-face with guerrilla and paramilitary leaders, U.S. drug war contractors (including three who are hostages of the guerrillas), and relatives of U.S. military personnel killed in Colombia. They see hillsides sprayed with herbicides under a failed 'drug war' policy, parades of soldiers wounded by landmines, and guerrillas in brutal combat. The film makes common cause with none of the violent groups: in a conflict whose victims are mostly civilian non-combatants, the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the security forces are all shown to be the cold-blooded murderers that they are.
But Gutiérrez also finds the 'good guys.' Viewers of the film meet brave people like Oscar Gutiérrez and others who, at constant risk to their own lives, are trying to reform their country and improve their way of life through peaceful means. Whether highlighting their work or simply the struggle of everyday Colombians to get on with their lives, Who Shot My Brother? is at turns horrifying and inspiring, both difficult to watch and impossible to ignore.
Who Shot My Brother? is essential viewing for all who wish to understand the conflict in Colombia. This war may be forgotten right now, but it is not going away. Gutiérrez's film explains why this is, and points the way toward its eventual resolution."
Adam Isacson, Director of Programs, Center for International Policy
"The question in the title leads the narrator and us, the audience, into the many sides of Colombian violence: labor union leaders, civilians attacked from the air; hostages taken by left-wing guerrillas; victims who have lost limbs to landmines. The various armed actors (military, guerrillas, paramilitaries) are shown, and the extent of U.S. involvement is exposed with astonishing footage. Avoiding oversimplification and stereotypes and focusing on real people, this film shows the beauty of Colombia and presents some remarkable people who courageously struggle against the violence, such as doctors, displaced people starting a new community, and, most notably, the courageous politician Oscar Gutierrez, the filmmaker'
Awards and Festivals
Radio-Canada People's Choice Award, Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal
aluCine Latino Media Festival, Toronto
Durban Internationl Film Festival, South Africa
University of California, Irvine Latin American Film Festival
Amnesty International Human Rights Film Festival, St. John's, Canada
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s brother. Highly recommended for use in classrooms and with the general public."
Phillip Berryman, author Liberation Theology