Oscars: Panama Selects 'Invasion' for Foreign-Language Category

Invasion Film Still - H 2014
Apertura Films

Invasion Film Still - H 2014

Abner Benaim’s doc about the U.S. invasion is the country’s first submission for the Academy Awards

Panama has chosen Invasion, Abner Benaim’s doc about the country's collective memory of the 1989 U.S. invasion, as its candidate for an Oscar nomination in the Foreign Language Film category.

This is the first time Panama has submitted a film to the Academy Awards, a natural result of the growth the Panamanian film industry has experienced in recent years after a new film law came into effect in 2002.

New production subsidies, cash rebates on foreign shoots, the Panama International Film Festival, the new Meets Latin American Co-Production Forum, and the Platino Ibero-American Film Awards have now redesigned Central America’s film industry scene, placing Panama at the top of it.  

Benaim has certainly been a part of that evolution, since his film Chance — the first Panamanian production in more than 60 years — beat James Cameron’s worldwide hit Avatar at the box office at the time of its premiere in 2009.

Invasion, Benaim's third film, won both the Best Documentary Audience Award and the MasterCard Central America and Caribbean Audience Award at the Panama film festival, and is scheduled for local release on Sept. 18.

The film dives into the invasion of Panama the U.S. deployed in 1989 in order to extract Gen. Manuel Noriega. Using no archive footage, Benaim instead focuses on ordinary people’s memories of the military intrusion, in which a still undetermined number of Panamanian citizens were killed.