In this astonishing portrait of Alberto Fujimori, Peru's authoritarian ex-president proves to be a master of political showmanship: ingratiating himself with audiences even while appearing to be a near psychopath. If State of Fear, shown at Film Forum last week, presents an evenhanded historical chronicle of Peru's war on terror, The Fall of Fujimori reveals the captivating conflict between one man's skewed vision and the disturbing realities that surround him.
Perry splices together her conversations with the affable leader of Japanese descent with images of the carnage, corruption and chaos of his reign from 1990 to 2000. The film includes ample footage of Fujimori's shocking 1992 "self-coup," when—in order to combat the spread of the Shining Path guerillas—he disbanded Congress (effectively becoming a dictator), reorganized the judiciary (creating hooded military tribunals) and enacted harsh anti-terrorism laws (establishing death squads).
Always claiming the moral high ground, Fujimori admits that "isolated cases" of human-rights abuse took place but washes his hands of any wrongdoing. Like Errol Morris's TheFog of War, in which Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara took the hot seat, The Fall of Fujimori is a chilling study of power and denial. No matter that Fujimori faces charges of corruption and murder in Peru—the former leader maintains his innocence, vowing to pursue the presidency once again. (Now playing; Film Forum.)—Anthony Kaufman