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State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism

by Paco de Onis and Pamela Yates and Peter Kinoy

Based on the work of Peru's Truth Commission, State of Fear dramatizes the human and societal costs a democracy faces when it wages a 'war on terror'.

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How can an open society balance demands for security with democracy? Based on the findings of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, State of Fear follows events in Peru, yet serves as a cautionary tale for a nation like the United States. Filmmakers Pamela Yates, Peter Kinoy, and Paco de Onis masterfully blend personal testimony, history and archival footage to tell the story of escalating violence in the Andean nation and how the fear of terror undermined their democracy, making Peru a virtual dictatorship where official corruption replaced the rule of law. Terrorist attacks by Shining Path insurgents provoked a military occupation of the countryside. Military justice replaced civil authority, widespread abuses by the Peruvian Army went unpunished, and the terrorism continued to spread. Nearly 70,000 civilians eventually died at the hands of Shining Path and the Peruvian military.

A HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH RECOMMENDED FILM The deluxe DVD edition includes: - 12 chapters with chapter running times to aid teaching and class planning. - Interviews with Juan E. Mendez (President), Paul van Zyl (Director of Programs), and Lisa Magarell (Senior Fellow) of the International Center for Transitional Justice (The ICTJ served as consultants to the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as advisors to State of Fear). - A filmmakers commentary track. - The Q&A session with the audience after the film premiered at Lincoln Center in New York. - A slide show of photographs by Vera Lentz, the preeminent photographer that documented the human drama of political violence in Peru from 1980 to 2000. - The Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Conclusions from its Final Report in downloadable PDF form. - Links to internet resources that will keep the DVD-ROM current as a valuable human rights reference long into the future. SPANISH VERSION AVAILABLE - contact Paco de Onis.

quoteState of Fear is a brilliant and moving film, which is both a portrait of Peru and a chronicle of terror and response - fanaticism, bravery, heroism, abject fear and the way everyone is affected by such events. It is what Orwell called the aim of great art, which was both imaginative in craftsmanship and politically committed at its heart.
Paul Theroux
Author expert blend of original interviews with various individuals from both sides, rare video footage, and dubious government news reports which would be laughable if they were not ultimately responsible for creating so much pain and distrust. A disturbing and harrowing film, this is highly recommended.
Video Librarian
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quoteState of Fear is a masterpiece.
Cynthia McClintock, Professor of Political Science, George Washington University

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quote...remarkably fair, coherent and well documented. On Peru at this point it's the gold standard; it has no peer.
Alexander Wilde, Chair, Board of Directors, Washington Office on Latin America

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quoteState of Fear is a must-see film for educators and activists working in the field of international human rights and Latin American studies.
Juan E. M?ndez, President, International Center for Transitional Justice and United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide

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More Reviews


  • Overseas Press Club Award for "Best Reporting in Any Medium About Latin America"
  • Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Award of Merit in Film
  • Audience Award - 2005 Amnesty International USA EXPOSE Film Festival, Los Angeles
  • Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Video - Council On Foundations Film Festival
  • Official Selection: Opening Night Film - 2005 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, Lincoln Center, New York
  • Film Critics Award For Best Documentary Film, 2005 - Chicago International Documentary Film Festival
  • For the full list of screenings, please visit

Resource Web Sites

appleWashington Office on Latin America (WOLA) overview of the Peruvian Truth & Reconciliation Commission

Valuable information and insights on the work of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

appleInternational Center for Transitional Justice report on Peru's Truth Commission

The International Center for Transitional Justice served as consultants to the Peruvian Truth & Reconciliation Commission, and helped design the Reparations Plan that was approved by the Peru's Congress in 2005.

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Visit the official website for State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism

State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism

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