108 (Cuchillo de Palo)
Icarus Films • 1h 33m
Directed by Renate Costa Perdomo • Documentary • 2010 • 91 minutes
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.
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.
"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
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