You may want to avert your eyes from the opening shot of a murdered man covered in flies. But this devastating documentary about Colombia's 40-year-old civil war is so vibrant and fascinating that you won't be able to look away for long. As urban gangs allied either with left-wing guerrillas or right-wing paramilitary units battle each other (and government troops) for control of slums like La Sierra, their families, friends and neighbors get caught in the crossfire. While the filmmakers focus on three youths involved in the conflict, they end up chronicling the sad story of an entire community.
At 22, Edison has a baby's face with an old man's eyes. As the leader of right-wing crew Bloque Metro, he has murdered many enemies and fathered many children—at one point during the film, three teenage girls are pregnant by him simultaneously. Cielo, 17, is the girlfriend of one of Edison's jailed henchmen. And 17-year-old Bloque Metro soldier Jesus's biggest goal in life is to live long enough to see his son born. Through incredibly candid interviews, these faux adults discuss their improbable hopes and dreams (Edison fantasizes about becoming a civil engineer) and their fatalistic worldview. In between, they snort cocaine, engage in shootouts and party like there's no tomorrow, which unfortunately turns out to be the case for Edison, who is inevitably killed. Hopefully he's more at peace dead than he was when alive.—Raven Snook