Papa

2006, 11:14 min, color, sound

Writes Yonemoto: "From the great Irish potato famine to Van Gogh's dark painting, the potato has represented misery. Why should a life of living from the land be one of misery? The prevalent documentary content of 'marginalized peasant misery' will be the central image under scrutiny. Does a documentary made in the West always have to portray people of the third world as being unhappy? Papa presents a contemporary Peruvian family whose modest lives contrast with Van Gogh's representation of stark rural poverty..."

In Papa, Yonemoto uses the potato ("papa" in Quechua), which is indigenous to Andean Peru, as the starting point for his inquiry. Restaging Van Gogh's famous painting The Potato Eaters with a modern Andean Quechua family in place of the original's Dutch peasants, Yonemoto parodies conventional documentary "objectivity" and its discourses surrounding third-world agricultural misery. Footage of rural poverty from Bunuel's 1932 surrealist documentary Land Without Bread—itself a landmark parody of the documentary form—serves as an ironic counterpoint to the "real" family tableau; they are seen laughing, eating and sharing wine.

Papa ends with the lines, "the real is a relation like any other, the essence of things is by no means linked to their reality, there are other relations beside reality, which the mind is capable of grasping, and which also are primary like chance, illusion, the fantastic, the dream..."

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