San Sebastian film festival condemns murder of Poveda

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French-Spanish filmmaker Christian Poveda, whose documentaries show the brutal reality of gangs in El Salvador, was shot dead while on his way back from a film shoot.

Madrid – Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival on Thursday paid tribute to murdered French-Spanish filmmaker Christian Poveda, whose documentary about Salvadoran street gangs was first presented there in 2008.

Poveda, 54, was shot dead Wednesday night on a road north of San Salvador on his way back from a film shoot in the gang-controlled suburb La Campanera.

His last film, a hard-hitting documentary La Vida Loca (The Crazy Life), which shows the brutal reality of life among the street gangs of El Salvador, was shown at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2008.

The festival organisers condemned his murder and said "the best tribute that can be done is to see" the film.

Poveda had said he was inspired to make La Vida Loca by a photo reportage he did in 2004 for French weekly Paris Match.

He then spent 16 months filming in La Campanera, to show the drugs deals, thefts, killings and police raids that fill the daily lives of the "maras", gangs who have multiplied in several Central American countries in recent years.

He said he wanted to draw attention to what he considers a "social phenomenon" and not just a "problem of delinquency."

"I wanted to point the finger at the causes," he told AFP in an interview in 2008.

Around the world, journalists paid tribute to Poveda.

"We are all in shock," said Jean-Francois Leroy, head of the Visa Pour L'Image photojournalism festival in southern France where one of Poveda's films premiered in 2008.

"Everyone told him it was dangerous. But he said he was sure he was in no danger."

Alain Mingan, a friend and fellow journalist, paid tribute to "a great professional, widely respected in the world of photojournalism and documentary-making."

"He wanted to show what remained of humanity in this world of violence, and he has paid the price for it."

"The most probable thing is that he was the victim of one of the gangs he was investigating, a murky underworld that even the local authorities have no handle on," said Jean-Francois Julliard, head of Reporters Without Borders.

"We've asked for a meeting with the Salvadoran head of state, who is a former journalist. We hope he'll see us," he added, saying he was confident the Salvadoran authorities would do their best to find the killers.

Poveda had reported extensively on Latin America, producing photojournalism and documentaries for media in Europe and the United States.

His next film, La Vida Loca, is set for release in Europe on 30 September.

The next edition of the San Sebastian festival, the oldest and most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world, takes place from 18 to 26 September in the coastal city in northern Spain.

AFP / Expatica

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