Dawson, Island 10 -- Film Review



PALM SPRINGS -- Two-time Oscar nominee, Chile's Miguel Littin returns with what should have been another strong best foreign-language contender.

Although "Dawson, Island 10," based on the testimony of a former Allende cabinet minister deported to a remote concentration camp following the 1973 Pinochet military coup, certainly seemed be a potent jump-off point, the picture is a bit of a letdown.

Part reenactment and part documentary, the end result is neither-here-nor-there dramatically nor artistically unique in its telling to distinguish itself from any number of affecting prisoner of war stories.

Littin, whose Letters from Marusia, and Alsino and the Condor had previously made the Oscar cut, provides an efficient history lesson in setting up the circumstances that led to those Chilean cabinet members sentenced to hard labor on the bleak, foreboding Dawson Island tundra.

Among those stripped of virtually all dignity was Sergio Bitar, aka No. 10 (effectively played by Benjamin Vicuna) whose writings provided the details of his internment.

They've been dutifully relayed by Littin, which may have sufficed if this had been a straight-ahead documentary.

Considering that this is essentially a narrative feature based on a true story, it was one that cried out for a some sort of an emotional journey and/or characters that were less confusing to tell apart.

As a result, despite cinematographer Miguel Joan Littin's evocative, soul-chilling location footage along the Magellan Strait, "Dawson, Island 10" proves as anonymous and distancing as its title.

Venue: Palm Springs International Film Festival
Cast: Benjamin Vicuna, Cristian de la Fuente, Pablo Krogh
Director-screenwriter: Miguel Littin
Producers: Walter Lima, Miguel Joan Littin
Director of photography: Miguel Joan Littin
Music: Juan Cristobal Meza
Editor: Andrea Yaconi
Sales agent: Weissman & Associates
No MPAA rating, 117 minutes
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