Metal and Melancholy
Directed by Heddy Honigmann • Documentary • 1993 • 80 minutes
This documentary is an offbeat "road movie" in which acclaimed documentarian Heddy Honigmann travels with, and thereby discovers the stories of, taxi drivers in Lima. In the early 1990s, in response to Peru's inflationary economy and a government destabilized by corruption and Shining Path terrorism, many middle-class professionals used their own cars to moonlight as taxi drivers in order to weather the financial crisis.
Through the filmmaker's distinctive approach—"I don't do interviews," Honigmann has explained, "I have conversations"—METAL AND MELANCHOLY learns about the intimate relationships these part-time cabbies have developed with their vehicles, and the ingenious methods they use to thwart car thieves. Afterwards, the taxi drivers open up emotionally to relate heartfelt accounts of domestic adversity, love, life-threatening illness, romance, economically frustrated ambition, pain and suffering. "Life is hard, but beautiful," one of the drivers sums up philosophically.
"A panorama of human spirit and ingenuity." —The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)