CINEPHIL - as SALES All rights, World

Historical - Completed 2014

Invasión, an eye-opening documentary about the US military siege of Panama that ousted dictator Manuel Noriega 25 years ago while wreaking untold collateral damage. By turns sardonic and harrowing, Invasión sets out to shatter the willful amnesia of a country all too eager to bury its troubled past

& Awards

International Film Festival Panama 2014
Best Documentary, Audience Award
IDFA 2014
Miami Film Festival 2015
Knight Competition
SXSW 2015
True/False Film Fest 2015
Cartagena IFF 2015
    • Year of production
    • 2014
    • Genres
    • Historical, Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 93 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Abner BENAIM
    • Producer(s)
    • Abner BENAIM (Apertura Films)
    • Synopsis
    • INVASION is a documentary about the collective memory of a country. The invasion of Panama by the U.S in 1989 serves as an excuse to explore how a people remember, transform, and often forget their past in order re-define their identity and become who they are today.
      George Bush (father) made it clear he wanted General Noriega, an ex CIA friend turned rogue, out of power. The Panama Canal, a strategic asset for the U.S. seemed to be at risk. For two weeks Panama’s tropical backdrop became a testing ground for new weapons. Noriega handed himself over and was convicted to a US jail for drug trafficking and later in France for another sentence having already spent 24 years in prison.
      The invasion was put aside by the establishment for different reasons, the ruling party had to live with the guilt and shame of being in power thanks to the US, at a heavy cost of civilian lives for Panama. The subsequent government used to be General Noriega's political arm therefore preferred silence, and most regular people in Panama seem to think there is no need for remembering tragedy, loss and violence. These ugly memories seem to collide with Panama's self image of a tropical paradise where nothing bad ever happens. But the invasion is still very present in the minds of the people who experienced it. With this documentary we aimed at capturing those memories from the individuals who lived through it, and make them come together in a collective tale.
      The documentary’s narrative focuses on characters whose lives were deeply shaken by the invasion: civilians who suffered from the US attacks, Panamanian defence forces who fought in isolated, symbolic battles, para-military personnel who wanted to fight but could not, politicians who justify their actions at the time, friends of the church who clarify their role as negotiators between Noriega and the US, and other people involved directly in this moment in history, from the regular person in the street who participated in the looting, to former General Noriega himself.
      Through moving conversations with our characters we get a feeling of what happened and what is the meaning of the invasion, as seen from today looking back at December 1989, we also witness how Panama turned into “The Singapore of the Caribbean”. The Invasion of 1989 is a platform, a pretense, to talk about the perils of sovereignty, democracy and other endangered virtues of today’s ultra-capitalist world, and to explore the mechanisms through which memory is turned into history, and how our recent past shapes the identity of a new Panama.