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Hot Docs 2017 Review: “Women of Venezuelan Chaos” (2017) ★★★★


If there was any hope that after the death of Hugo Chavez things in Venezuela could get better, it now appears that things could not get any worse. One chaos after another, injustice, unlawful arrests, prosecution, execution and even poverty has become normal for the entire nation. However, Margarita Cadenas’ film poignantly captures the lives of five brave women belonging from different generations and background, whose only desire is to live a peaceful life with their loved ones that have been taken away.

The documentary feature revolves around Kim (a nurse), Maria Jose (community manager), Eva (unemployed), Luisa (retired police officer) and Olga (waitress) who have five incredibly sad and heartbreaking stories to share of how they have fallen victim to erstwhile dictator Hugo Chaves’ modus operandi which is now being followed by Nicolas Maduro, who seems to be breaking every single record as one of the most vicious tyrants of the 21st century. While there are many other dictators that can be claimed to be on the same level as Maduro, the life of each person impacted is different from one and another, drawing an incredible picture of human suffering that can be experienced by being not too far from each other.

It opens with the introduction of Venezuela being a country that has the largest oil reserve. A few years ago it might have been considered as a stable democracy, a major resource of energy and one of the richest countries in the world; but now it’s facing crisis in the form of poverty and starvation that with each passing day reaches a new low. Fuelled by violence, kidnapping, homicides, corruption, state oppression and instability of the society, it has taken away the right to freedom of speech and the regime can jail anyone whenever they wish to.

Kim, as a nurse, brings the audience inside of the hospital where she works to show us the damning situation the hospital faces shortages not only for medicines but medical personnel as well. For instance, if two patients arrive at the hospital for medical treatment, priority will be given to the one who has more chances to survive than others. Kim also shares about the insecurity of Venezuela, foods that are too expensive or money that’s never enough to buy basic stuff. And that is something not only her, even her patients at the hospital faces the same problems when they literally have to bring their own medicines, bed sheets and medical tools if they want at least someone to take care of them.

Maria Jose is a community manager whose only goal is to provide for her child. Eva is unemployed, Luisa, a retired officer, hopes that the government will finally release her grandson from prison where he was sent for no reason and Olga is a waitress, a woman that pursues the goal to have the government pay for taking the life of her son. As you go through every single story, it becomes more painful and impossible to bear the level of pain, despair, frustration all these five women have to go through on a daily basis while life in potentially one of the richest countries in the world could have been way different if not for corruption and the hunger for power.

In conclusion, Margarita Cadenas’ Women of Venezuelan Chaos is an absolutely powerful film that is cleverly constructed in a way for the audience to grasp every detail. Beautifully narrated, it brings up so many emotions, vulnerability and yet the enormous amount of strength these five women portray, doing the best they can to walk on the unstable grounds of Venezuela.

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