By T.W. Anderson | April 21, 2006

This short film which has garnered accolades and awards at both the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival tells the story of Pablo (Javier Ramos) a Peruvian child who helps his mother to make ends meet by hawking Chiclé “Gum” to tourists on the streets of his hometown of Cuzco. On the afternoon of our tale, Pablo and his brother Mano (Alan Cuba) encounter a lost girl (Quinn Schmalenburg). Pablo in his idyllic innocence sets about trying to assist the young English-speaking girl in finding her hotel, while at the same time Mano falls upon a young woman who turns out to be the mother of the lost child and robs her of her purse in this circular meditation on the duality of third world street life.

Director Josh Hyde has made a fascinating look at the culture of the poor and the daily struggles between what is right and what is easy. What makes Hyde’s film all the more discerning is his camera’s objectivity. The children’s mother must know that Mano has procured the cash from illicit means, yet she does not judge him. Young Pablo, aware of the hardships of everyday life, is nevertheless selfless in his predisposition to help those in need, even at the sacrifice of his own financial well-being.

From a technical standpoint, Chiclé has a gritty Cinéma verite styling that matches the near documentary immediacy that the picture requires. This intimate look at the lives of the characters is further enhanced by Hyde’s unobtrusive eye and Dan Fischer’s coarse cinematography. Adding to the rich texture of the film is a wonderful score comprised of local music that really adds to the element of the nature of the short.

Hyde has accomplished an impressive feat with this intelligent and satisfying look at a slice of life that so few Americans can truly comprehend. Simply stated, Chiclé is a film of hope, but at the same time it is a stark look at the realities that face millions of children in thousands of towns like Cuzco all across this earth.

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