Documentary - Completed 2014

"Invasion" is a documentary on the collective memory of a country and its people. A coral story told from the present, looking back to 1989 when the US massively invaded Panama with the apparent mission of removing General Noriega out of power.

& Awards

Ventana Sur 2014
Best Documentary Audience Award
Award for the Best Central American and Caribbean Film
    • Year of production
    • 2014
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 94 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Abner BENAIM
    • Writer(s)
    • Abner BENAIM
    • Producer(s)
    • Abner BENAIM (Apertura Films), Alejandro ISRAEL (Ajimolido 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.
      On the night of December 20th 1989 the U.S. invaded the otherwise peaceful country of Panama.
      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.