Directed by Alvaro Delgado Aparicio, Retablo is a film jointly produced with participation of Peru, Germany and Norway. Retablo won Best Peruvian Film Award at Festival deCine de Lima & at Berlin International Film Festival, in 2018, it won Teddy Award as the best LGBTQ-themed debut film.
It centers around a 14 year old Perfuvian boy, Segundo Paucar (Junior Bejar) who is being trained by his father, Noe (Amiel Cayo), to become an artisan and continue with the family legacy of making beautiful retablos. These brightly painted wooden cabinets were sometimes commissioned by large families and they featured the family members and sometimes they were commissioned by churches. Father and son duo also made small generic retablos to sell in the tourist markets. Sedundo shares a very special bond with his father and father is immensely proud of the skills and enthusiasm that his young son displayed.
However, Segundo’s beautiful little world fell apart when he saw his father engage in a homosexual act. Guilt and shame began to eat him inside. But that was only the start of their problems. Some time later, Noe was caught in the act, by the villagers. This was a small close knit, traditional community of people who took simple pleasures in community celebrations. The same community where people depended on each other in their hour of need, was also totally intolerant of a different way of life. Noe was not only insulted and spurned by the villagers but also was badly beaten. His wife Anatolia, (Magaly Solier) left him.
The flow of the film is so natural that it is hard to imagine at which point it becomes intense. Junio Bejar displays a range of emotions from pride about his family to disgust and shame to disillusionment to deep inner strength when he decides to not accompany his grieving mother who leaves her husband, but instead stays with his father who is beaten and left as an outcast.
The film shows the challenges that LGBTQ people often have to navigate in diverse societies. And it shows that the cost of exclusion is borne not only by the individual but his family as well. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it a 4.2. Retablo is available on Netflix.