State of Fear takes place in Peru, yet serves as a cautionary tale for a world engaged in a “global war on terror”. It dramatizes the human and societal costs a democracy faces when it embarks on a “war” against terror, a “war” potentially without end, all too easily exploited by unscrupulous leaders seeking personal political gain.
An unforgettable array of characters takes us down a troubling road peopled by perpetrators and victims, and bystanders who only watched as the horror unfolded. But it is also the story of courageous Peruvians who fought to maintain their democracy and defend human rights, and persevered in their quest for truth and justice.
With support from The Ford Foundation, the Sundance Documentary Fund, and the US Institute of Peace, Skylight Pictures has released this feature length documentary directed by Pamela Yates. State of Fear brings a new level of documentary storytelling to an epic tale of one nation’s journey through a war on terror.
How can an open society balance demands for security with democracy? State of Fear dramatizes the human and societal costs a democracy faces when it embarks on a “war” against terror, a “war” potentially without end, all too easily exploited by unscrupulous leaders seeking personal political gain. The film follows events in Peru, yet it serves as a cautionary tale for a nation like the United States.
Filmmakers Pamela Yates, Paco de Onís and Peter Kinoy masterfully blend personal testimony, history and archival footage to tell the story of escalating violence in the Andean nation and how fear of terrorism was used to undermine democracy, making Peru a virtual dictatorship where official corruption replaced the rule of law. Terrorist attacks by Shining Path guerrillas provoked a military occupation of the countryside. Military justice replaced civil authority, widespread abuses by the Peruvian army went unpunished, and terrorism continued to spread. Nearly 70,000 civilians eventually died at the hands of the Shining Path and the Peruvian military.
State of Fear is set in the magnificent deserts, mountains, and jungles of Peru, filmed by a US/Peruvian team, and tells a gripping story of escalating violence and repression, and of courageous resistance by human rights defenders. Terrorist attacks by the Shining Path guerrillas 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. Eventually nearly 70,000 civilians died at the hands of the Shining Path and the Peruvian military.Old-fashioned police intelligence finally subdued the terrorist threat but Peruvian leaders continued to use the fear of terrorism to gut the democracy, making Peru a virtual dictatorship where a vast web of corruption replaced the rule of law.
In 2000 this autocratic regime collapsed beneath the weight of its own corruption, and the new democratic government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that opened a door to the past, throwing light on the relentless violence that had engulfed this Andean nation for twenty years. The Truth Commission granted Skylight Pictures access to its extensive testimonial evidence from 20 years of violence, as well as hundreds of hours of rarely seen archival material and thousands of exquisite still photographs that will help bring this timely story to an international audience