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German Competition 2013
Verlorener Horizont Robert Bohrer, Emma Simon

Bolivia, a country without a sea-coast, prepares its navy for the final strike: a kind of toy army with lots of macho strutting. Hilarious and scary.

Verlorener Horizont

Documentary Film
Bolivia,
Germany
2013
69 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Eva Kemme, Tobias Siebert, Ansgar Frerich
Robert Bohrer, Emma Simon
Jan Maihorn
Emma Rosa Simon, Max Preiss
Kathrin Dietzel
Robert Bohrer, Emma Simon, Marian Kaiser
Florian Dietrich
“One day the sea died, from one coast to the other, folding up, shrinking, a coat that is taken away.” This lament intoned by the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral in her poem “The Death of the Sea”, this poeticised phantom pain, could just as well come from Bolivia. The country lost its access to the sea more than a hundred years ago – because of Chile. Unlike Mistral’s poem, however, they do not regard the sea as lost. It has survived as a lost horizon, a locus of national longing. One day Bolivia will return to the sea. This motto is repeated like a mantra, in schools, celebrating “Ocean Day”, in navy training. Yes, Bolivia allows itself the luxury of a navy in preparation of this glorious day, an “armada”, even if it’s navigating Lake Titicaca instead of the Pacific. The film delves deeply into the workings of this myth by following a group of conscripts through their naval training. Quite a few manoeuvres navigate the limits of absurdity, for example when the special divers’ unit leap into the lake with a bold “For Bolivia, goddam!”, or when the female soldiers wear fake high heels with their navy uniforms. Scenes that could have been captured by the wayside, between discipline and reverie, add to the panorama of a “maritime” country in the Andes that sticks to old ideals while taking tiny steps towards modernisation.

Lars Meyer