'Power and Impotence: A Tragedy in Three Acts' ('Poder e Impotencia, una Tragedia en 3 Actos '): Bergen Review

Courtesy of Bergen International Film Festival
The sadly familiar tale of what happens after David knocks Goliath down

The four-year tenure of Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo gets a post-mortem

As voters all over the world know, transformative figures who campaign for public office with slogans of "Change" often fail to deliver what is so badly wanted. So it was in Paraguay, where a bishop who sided with the underclass was elected in 2008 after decades of a monolithic regime some referred to as "democraship." Having observed his rise in The Land of No Evil, Anna Recalde Miranda shows the election's dispiriting aftermath in Power and Impotence: A Tragedy in Three Acts. Given impressive access to a president who eventually sealed himself off from the press, Miranda depicts an administration unprepared to govern and incapable of overcoming entrenched resistance. Though not dramatically charged enough to get much traction in English-speaking territories, it is useful both to students of South American politics and as a case history for aspiring changemakers elsewhere.

President Fernando Lugo refused to allow media into his offices after a long period in which they browbeat him for failings both real and imagined. But inside those chambers, Miranda finds not all that much happening. Books with titles like What to Expect from Democracy sit on desks; lawmakers hunt for maps that will tell them what natural resources are found in various parts of the country. (The previous president took them with him, we're told.)

Two other figures try to help Lugo enact his agenda, which includes universal health care and the reclamation of "wrongly acquired lands" that were given out to cronies of earlier presidents: Miguel Angel Lopez, his cabinet secretary, seems to be more informed and politically adept than Lugo; Sixto Pereira, whose job may be less enviable than the President's, is one of two progressives in a Senate devoted to oligarchy. They become increasingly important in act two, when cancer forces Lugo to step out of the spotlight temporarily.

Lugo could beat cancer, but not the long-ruling Colorado Party. They triumph in act three, as a land-rights campaign led by homeless peasants leads to violence that is blamed on the administration. After 23 unsuccessful impeachment attempts, he was ousted in a lightning-fast maneuver many outsiders called a parliamentary coup. Miranda watches sadly as what seemed to be a tide of change recedes, leaving Paraguay's political landscape barely altered.


Production company: Troubled Productions

Director-Screenwriter-Producer: Anna Recalde Miranda

Directors of photography: Anna Recalde Miranda, Nicola Grignani

Editors: Glenn Felix, Andrea Gandolfo, Anna Recalde Miranda


No rating, 80 minutes