Films & Schedules

  • Unwanted Witness
    Sin Tregua

  • Juan José Lozano

87 minutes

Production Company:
Intermezzo Films/Dolce Vita Films/Television Suisse Romande
Executive Producer:
Isabelle Gattiker
Marc Irmer
Written By:
Juan José Lozano
Production Designer:
Isabelle Gattiker
Sergio Mejia
Ana Acosta
Carlos Ibanez
Vincent Hänni, Gabriel Scotti

International Sales Agent:

TIFF Tags: Documentary 

Friday September 0508:30PM VARSITY 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Monday September 0806:30PM AMC 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1306:45PM VARSITY 2 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

According to Reporters Without Borders, Colombia is one of the most dangerous places in Latin America for journalists to work. Intimidated by death threats and the murders of colleagues, reporters must often choose between going into exile or living in constant fear. Juan José Lozano's feature documentary, Unwanted Witness, tells the story of one of these reporters, Hollman Morris.

In a country obsessed with variety shows and soap operas, Morris struggles to find air time for his multiple award-winning news show, Contravía. Most current-affairs programmes in Colombia pander to a government (led by President Alvaro Uribe) that denies the politicization of the internal armed conflict that has been devastating the country for over forty years. Relegated to a late-night slot, Contravía is one of the few arenas where citizens can discover suppressed truths: details about forced disappearances, unmarked mass burial sites and other horrific acts taking place in the countryside.

Lozano's documentary offers a complex portrait of this dedicated war journalist. We feel Morris's dissatisfaction as he struggles to give the poor a voice when so few others will listen. His frustration is evident when he travels to Mexico to receive the New Iberoamerican Journalism Award from Gabriel García Márquez, as the event is not covered in the Colombian press. Moreover, Contravía subsequently has gone on hiatus due to lack of funding.

What distinguishes the film is seeing the human side of Morris's life and how the responsibilities of his work affect his marriage and family. His dedication to his job and to denouncing human-rights abuses take their toll, whether he is dealing with death threats or attending his daughter's ballet recital. An argument with his wife captured by Lozano's camera brings home just how much freedom this journalist is sacrificing to ensure that those struggling beyond the cities' tidy boundaries are represented.

When asked about his reasons for not fleeing the country, Morris's simple response has resounding clarity: if people like him go into exile, how will the situation ever improve?

Diana Sanchez

Juan José Lozano was born in Colombia and studied at La Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He has worked as a producer and directed television documentary series for the Colombian Ministry of Culture. He moved to Geneva in 1998 and has directed several short-form documentaries, including Vivre la démocratie (00), Le Bal de la vie et de la mort (01), Un Train arrive est aussi un train qui part (03), Horo (05) and Until the Last Stone (06). Unwanted Witness (08) is his debut feature documentary.

Cadillac People's Choice Award