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FILM FESTIVAL 'La Sierra' wins cinema award

Published: Tue, February 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A film about young Colombians swept up in deadly paramilitary battles in a Medellin neighborhood won a grand jury prize for best documentary Saturday at the Miami International Film Festival.
"La Sierra" won in the World and Ibero-American Cinema Competition. It was shot over a year by an Associated Press newswoman and a former AP photographer in a poor section of Medellin, a city ravaged by Colombia's civil war and cocaine trade.
The neighborhood's leader is Edison Flores, a 22-year-old head of the Bloque Metro, a paramilitary group. A rival paramilitary faction, Cacique Nutibara, is shown trying to take control and Flores is eventually killed.
"It's really just a story about youth trapped in their environment and how they're affected by it and the lack of opportunities," said filmmaker Scott Dalton, a photographer who worked for the AP in Latin America from 1995 to 2002.
Dalton said he and Margarita Martinez, a reporter in the AP's Bogota bureau, worked to earn the trust of both sides amid gang warfare that left bodies in the street.
The film also features Cielo Munez, a mother widowed at the age of 15 who is trying to rebuild her life with a jailed boyfriend and a career begging in the streets.

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