When the Guns Go Silent provides a good account of the Colombian peace process, but some questions remain unanswered.
Alexander Harang
Published date: January 15, 2018

Natalia Orozco has given us a valuable documentary about the process of negotiations that led to Colombia’s peace agreement. The Nobel prize-winning president Juan Manuel Santos is the story’s main protagonist, while his FARC counterparts are also allowed plenty of screen time. The film provides a unique insight into the dynamics of the peace talks, and serves as a good introduction to the battle lines of the civil war. The war’s violence and suffering constitute a recurring theme in the story. What the film fails to explain, however, is the popular opposition to the deal that was negotiated.

A Unique Insight

When the Guns Go Silent introduces its audience to the Santos government’s main negotiators and their counterparts in FARC’s leadership in the years 2010-2016. Through four of the five years the talks went on, Orozco recorded the unfolding of events. She’s had exclusive access to the most central players over time. In this way we get not only the president’s and the guerrilla leader’s perspective on how events played out, but also a closer look at the leading protagonists’ thoughts at different junctures of the peace process.  The documentary provides a unique insight into the road towards an armistice.

The documentary’s interviews are of historical importance. With this film Orozco tries not only to specifically explain the war’s final phase, but also to portray the nature of the long-running civil war. Through the extensive use of archival materials we follow Colombia’s political history from the summer of 2010 until the end of 2016 and also the main lines in the 52-year long war (the former more thoroughly, the latter more anecdotally). With one hour and 53 minutes at hand, what one can present is inevitably limited.

«The documentary thus provides a unique insight into the road towards an armistice.»



The film’s main story starts with Juan Manuel Santos winning the presidential elections on 7 August 2010. The president is portrayed as the one who both initiates and maintains the progress of the peace process. Few critical questions are raised about his motives or about his past record as president Uribe’s minister of defence. A long line of Santos’ peace negotiators are given screen time in the documentary. Facilitators like Henry …

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