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108 (Cuchillo de Palo)

A film by Renate Costa Perdomo

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When Rodolfo Costa was found naked on the floor of his home in Paraguay, he had been dead for days. Though ostensibly jobless, he had mysteriously amassed a small fortune. He also had a secret alias-Hector Torres-and a secret life.

At the time, Renate Costa Perdomo was a young girl. Asked to select her uncle's burial garb, she found his closet empty. Surely the lively, colorfully-dressed Rodolfo she knew could not, as those around her claimed, have died of sadness.

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In her powerful debut feature, which unfolds like a mystery novel, Costa Perdomo investigates the shadowy circumstances of Rodolfo's death. Witnesses and clues gently reveal Rodolfo's true identity as a persecuted gay man and the terrifying "108" homosexual blacklists that ruined lives, careers, and families. The film is also a fascinating portrait of the relationship between the filmmaker, who has left Paraguay and now lives in Spain, and her now-divorced father, Pedro Costa, who remains in the family blacksmithing shop. 108 is a moving illustration of the impact that the right-wing dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled Paraguay from 1954 to 1989, had on the so-called "108"s living in the country as experienced by a single Paraguayan gay man and his family.

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"The style is simple but the emotions highly sophisticated...Patiently photographed by Carlos Vasquez, 108 peels back layers of delusion and dishonesty."—The New York Times

"Highly political wihtout ever once veering into tiresome or abrasive preachiness. For all the oppressive horror it reveals, the film is nevertheless quite lovely, in its methodical peeling away of the camouflage that clouded so many gay lives in the past."—Film Journal International

"Offers a deeply felt angle on the broader realities of life in Paraguay during the '80s." - The Hollywood Reporter

"Enchanting...achieves a rare and foregiving synthesis, as though Costa were attempting to transcend the micro and macro details of her uncle's tragic life."—Slant Magazine

"Full of quiet artistry…Costa understands the power of awkward silences, holding the camera to explore discomfort and her own accusatory gaze. Even when discussing the horrors of the dictatorship, she maintains an unwavering calm that cuts through the hedging and the calculated avoidance of larger issues-hers is a selfless righteousness that nevertheless confronts her personal history."—Jay Weissberg, Variety

[Director Renate Costa Perdomo] herself cuts a powerful figure, her determined, laser-beam stare demanding nothing short of the full truth. She masterfully weaves together the personal and the political, and eventually finds a few simple but powerful words that sum up the need for her father and his generation to come to terms with their personal responsibility for colluding with the government, but also for her own generation's need to find understanding, compassion and forgiveness."—Paul Sbrizzi, Hammer to Nail

"Extraordinary. 9/10."—PopMatters

World Premiere, 2010 Berlin Film Festival
Winner, Best Film, Buenos Aires Human Rights Film Festival
Winner, Best Film, 2010 One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Prague
Official Selection, 2010 Documenta Madrid
Official Selection, 2010 Festival de Cannes
Winner, Best Ibero-American Documentary, 2010 Guadalajara Film Festival
Official Selection, 2010 Espoo Cine International Festival, Finland
Official Selection, 2010 Etats Generaux du Film Documentaire, Lussas
Official Selection, 2010 Latin Beat Film Festival, The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Official Selection, 2010 Viennale
Official Selection, 2010 Vancouver Film Festival
Official Selection, 2010 Two Riverside Film Festival, Poland
Official Selection, 2010 Bergen International Film Festival, Norway
Official Selection, 2010 Miradas Doc, Spain
Official Selection, 2010 CPH:DOX, Copenhagen
Official Selection, 2010 IDFA Amsterdam
Official Selection, 2010 Festival International du Film de Belfort
Official Selection, 2010 Mostra de Cinema e Direitos Humanos na America do Sul, Brazil
Official Selection, 2010 BOZAR, Palais des Beaux Arts de Bruxelles, Belgium
Official Selection, 2011 Zinegoak Bilabao
Official Selection, 2011 Goteborg International Film Festival, Sweden
Official Selection, 2011 Docs Barcelona
Official Selection, 2011 IF Istanbul Film Festival
Official Selection, 2011 Black Movie Geneva Film Festival, Switzerland
Official Selection, 2011 Muestra de Cine Realizado por Mujeres de Zaragoza y Huesca
Official Selection, 2011 San Diego Latino Film Festival
Official Selection, 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival

91 minutes / Color
Release: 2012
Copyright: 2010

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Subject areas:
Civil Rights, Cultural Studies, Family Relations, Gay Studies, Human Rights, Human Sexuality, Latin American Studies, South America, US & Canadian Broadcast Rights, Women's Studies

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