“Invasión,” Abner Benaim’s Oscar bid

By Craig Weincek

Producer Gema Juárez Allen with Abner Benaim at the International Film Festival presenting “Invasión.”

Producer Gema Juárez Allen with Abner Benaim at the International Film Festival presenting “Invasión.”

“Invasión” –a movie written, produced and directed by Abner Benaim– is challenging Hollywood for supremacy at the local box office and challenging the Panamanian public to consider their history in a new light.

The new film is a hybrid documentary interspersed with reenactments of the 1989 invasion of Panama by American forces under the orders of George Bush Sr. The film won the audience choice award at Panama’s International Film Festival for best documentary and the MasterCard Central America and Caribbean Audience Award.  The film examines how the people of Panama perceive Manuel Noriega’s downfall 25 years after the fact.

According to Benaim, he wanted to “examine recent history, which was so important, but little discussed.” The director does not take sides and allows various people from divergent walks of life to recall their memories. Benaim points out, “most people who experienced those times are still alive,” and as he believes, “it is good to talk about it.”

There is now a concerted effort to have the film nominated in the Foreign Language category for this year’s Academy Awards. This first-time effort with the Academy is an uphill struggle, though Benaim is banking that the appearance of the movie in a major film festival might help and hopes to make an announcement soon.

Benaim, 42, a serious, curly-haired fellow, is arguably Panama’s leading film maker with the hit “Chance,” released in 2009, already under his belt.

Should “Invasión” receive the Oscar nomination, many Americans would get an opportunity to learn about what really happened during the events of December, 1989, and Benaim will further cement his position as Panama’s film industry frontrunner.

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