Cuchillo de palo (108) (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes

Cuchillo de palo (108) (2013)

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Filmmaker Renate Costa fuses the personal and the political in this documentary which explores gay rights in Paraguay. As she was growing up, Costa's uncle Rodolfo was always the black sheep of the family -- he was the one who never married, who lived alone, who wanted to be a dancer rather than a laborer, and who wore clothes his brothers thought were inappropriate. It wasn't until Costa became an adult that she realized Rodolfo was gay, and when he was found dead in his home, she began to imagine how Paraguay's oppressive attitudes towards gays and lesbians had impacted him. Under the dictatorial rule of Alfredo Stroessner, gays were harassed by the authorities, their arrests were publicized by the police, and violence against them was commonplace and tolerated. Years later, after a long exile in Spain, Costa finds Paraguay is marginally more tolerant, but few gays or lesbians have the courage to express their sexuality in a place where they're still encouraged to remain in the closet. Costa's film Cuchillo de Palo (aka 108) takes its name from a derogatory name for gays still used in Paraguay, and tells the story of her uncle's life and death while also examining how little circumstances have improved for Paraguay's gay community in the 21st Century. 108 was an official selection at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Cuchillo de palo (108)

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2)

Patiently photographed by Carlos Vásquez, who bestows the same gentle attention on grainy snapshots and the beautifully ruined face of an aging drag queen, "108" peels back layers of delusion and dishonesty.

March 17, 2013 | Rating: 5/5

Costa's grainy footage looks amateurish at times-at one point, she runs out of battery and the screen goes dark-but her rule-breaking is bold.

March 12, 2013 | Full Review…

Emotionally powerful and provocative.

March 28, 2013 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

A landmark documentary on gay people that will become a classic like "Before Stonewall" or "The Celluloid Closet". At once a great family drama and detective story.

March 19, 2013 | Full Review…

This glowingly effective and intelligently low-key documentary manages to be both a stirring family drama and a valuable depiction of gay life and history in Paraguay.

March 18, 2013 | Full Review…

Renate Costa's doc gradually simplifies into an elaborate seesaw between general, journalistic scoopery and unabashedly personal confrontation.

March 16, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Cuchillo de palo (108)

Even though the narrative builds momentum and the discoveries pop up slowly, the story is told in a very straightforward way, so it feels closer to journalism than to cinema. Director and "star" Renate Costa is not a particularly gifted filmmaker, but her take on the oppressive Stroessner regime in Paraguay and the way its witch-hunt for homosexuals affected (and continues to affect) her conservative family is engrossing enough.

Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda
Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda

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